KETCHIKAN - The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and The Wilderness Society have appealed the U.S. Forest Service's proposed Emerald Bay timber sale on the northwest side of Cleveland Peninsula.
The peninsula, north of Ketchikan, is a popular hunting and recreation area that is also close to area sawmills.
"It will build roads opposed by biologists and the state of Alaska, chop up old-growth reserves, and illegally target the most valuable trees to be exported in the round," said Buck Lindekugel, SEACC's staff attorney, in a prepared statement. "On top of that, the U.S. Forest Service hasn't been honest with the public about the real motivation for the sale."
The conservation groups contend the agency told the public it planned the timber sale to test helicopter logging costs. However, they cite a memo Feb. 17 from Jerry Ingersoll, Forest Service district ranger for Ketchikan, to another Forest Service employee that said the Emerald Bay sale was planned as a somewhat experimental project in anticipation of the larger Port Stewart project. According to the memo, the situation changed when Emerald Bay became the only part of the Cleveland Peninsula eligible for logging.
The memo also said that during scoping, the agency gave the impression that no roads would be involved, which is no longer the case.
Ingersoll denied Tuesday that the agency had been dishonest.
Ingersoll told the Ketchikan Daily News he recalled writing the memo and described it as an internal document in which he provided the history of the proposed sale.
The intent on Emerald Bay from day one, he said, was to explore a way to demonstrate good ways of logging without incurring the kinds of impacts that people feared. But as the agency went through an analysis, it determined helicopter logging was not feasible, he said.