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Logjam Project's remaining timber a stopgap in southeast timber industry needs

Posted: November 2, 2011 - 12:02am

The recent 9th Circuit Board of Appeals decision on the Logjam Timber sale freed up between three million and six million board feet of lumber for bid. 

It’s a drop in the bucket for what we need,” said Alaska Forest Association Board Director George Woodbury. “But every million [the U.S. Forest Service] sells is important to keep things moving.”

Woodbury said  the Viking Lumber Company is already near the end of two of the three timber harvests in the Logjam project.

“The timber supply situation is desperate,” Woodbury said.

Tongass timber sales totaled 45.9 million board feet in fiscal year 2010.

To increase the number of timber sale Woodbury said he believes the Forest Service should advertise new timber sales as soon as possible, particularly those with complete Environmental Impact Statements. He also said the Forest Service should also keep a much larger volume of timber in the pipeline for the EIS process and sale at all times.

“The EIS process takes much too long,” Woodbury said, “and needs to be streamlined.

Larry Edwards, forest campaigner for Greenpeace agrees with Woodbury that the EIS process takes time.

“It isn’t a problem with EIS process,” Edwards said. “It has more to with scheduling.”

With the circuit court decision Greenpeace “pretty much exhausted our options,” Edwards said. Greenpeace joined in the lawsuit with the Tongass Conservation Society and Cascadia Wildlands

Edwards said he believes the lawsuit had a positive influence on subsequent Forest Service timber sales. Though not ruled on by the court, Edwards said the EIS “vastly overestimated” deer habitat — deer are the primary prey of the Archipelago wolf. The

Forest Service rated federal and non-federal lands with the same deer carrying capacity. However, non-federal lands, Edwards said, are more prone to be clear cut and therefore are poorer quality deer habitat. He said he hopes his work helps the Forest Service avoid the error on future sales.

The circuit court decided in favor of the Forest Service, finding that the agency met Environmental Protection Agency guidelines in its Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The statement provided for logging on 3,422 acres of Tongass National Forest and the construction of 22 miles of roads on Prince of Wales Island, according to a Tongass National Forest release.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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