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Timber sales will benefit local small mills

Posted: October 3, 2012 - 12:05am

Three small-scale federal timber sales are going on the market on Wrangell and Zarembo Islands.

The Forest Service tailored the Alto, Cello and Fiddle timber sales to fit the needs of Wrangell’s small-scale mills and wood-related businesses. Part of the Roadside Timber Sale Program, the micro-sales total 2,000 board feet (1,000 board feet units are known in the industry by the abbreviation mbf), 4,000 and 8,000 respectively.

“Pretty small [sales], essentially a handful of trees,” Austin O'Brien timber staff officer at the Wrangell Ranger District said.

The roadside program awards salvage harvest of dead, dying or toppled trees and some select cut green saw timber harvest to a maximum of 1,200 feet from open roads. Alto, Cello and Fiddle are built around a specific specie of tree.

O’Brien said roadside also sets harvest limits. The maximum size for a sale is 50,000 board feet, up to 500,000 per year.

These first three micro sales were approved under the umbrella of the program’s broader environmental assessment. This tactic “streamlines the process,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the efficiencies may make the sales easier for small-scale local operators to respond to proposals. These operators employ five to 10 workers and process wood into higher value products, he said.

The proximity of the timber to existing roads also helps each sale’s economics, said Jeremy Maxand, community organizer with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. Mill operators can select specific trees and make a competitive bid, he said.

Maxand worked with the Forest Service and local mills in Wrangell on Alto, Cello and Fiddle.

“This program is a great way to meet the needs of existing and future small local mill operators, music wood suppliers and other value-added wood products businesses,” Maxand said.

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

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