Why timber sales were canceled

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2004

In your Jan. 13 article "USFS to Cancel 20 Timber Sales," SEACC was quoted: "Everyone knows that the region is awash in timber available to log ... clearly the industry doesn't need more timber sales."

SEACC seems to miss the point of the cancellation. Those sales were canceled because they are unaffordable. The sales were designed with too much road construction, too much long-distance helicopter logging and other excessive costs that far exceeded the value of timber in all but one of the last 25 years. When those sales were purchased the sawmills had to choose between no timber and those unaffordable sales.To maintain their employees and their customers, the mills purchased those sales along with a few others. Over the years the Forest Service began preparing more affordable timber sales. The sawmills purchased these new sales and, by logging some of the good along with the bad, they were able to survive.

The sawmills were never "awash in timber available to log," because the unaffordable timber sale cannot be considered "available to log" by any prudent businessperson. In addition, it takes three years to harvest the average timber sale. Last year there was only about 150 MMBF of affordable timber sale under contract, hence the 51 MMBF harvest.

George Woodbury

President of Alaska Forest Association


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