Group wants to revitalize logging

Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2003

KENAI - A nonprofit group on the Kenai Peninsula wants to revitalize logging and milling.

Kenai Peninsula Timber Inc. was formed following an economic forum in January. The group has chosen officers and established some goals, including plans to use beetle-killed spruce trees as a source for marketing wood products, such as railroad ties and wood siding.

"We've got a lot of product that's going to waste that we can utilize," said newly elected president Tim O'Brien, a Nikiski mill owner. "All the lumber yards will take anything we can offer."

O'Brien said the group wants to harvest the beetle-killed trees before they hit the ground and rot. The trees have about two years of usefulness after they die.

The nonprofit group also plans to lobby government officials for access to timber lands.

Borough business development manager Jack Brown, who helped organize Kenai Peninsula Timber, said the changes in government in Juneau and Washington, D.C., make the access to more timber more likely.

O'Brien said he hopes the new organization will be a more successful incarnation of a timber cooperative that ended nearly 12 years ago.

"We're trying to get all the old members and get new members, as well," he said.

One of the ultimate goals, O'Brien said, is to build a centralized lumber yard where mills would be set up.

Millwrights and loggers could contribute their individual skills to a cooperative effort, and reap a percentage of the benefit proportionate to the work put in.

"You won't have to worry about chopping the logs and milling," O'Brien said. "This way, everybody that has the proper equipment can do a quality job and a safer job."

The corporation's immediate goals include creating value-added products and streamlining government agency contracts.

O'Brien said David Goode, a Nikiski log cabin builder, told the group he had connections to Lower 48 markets that would pay for Alaska timber to build cabins.

But Goode said some changes would be needed to be competitive.

"The guys are going to have to get their product down to a marketable price," Goode said. "You can't sell something for $8.25 per lineal foot, when I can buy that same product out of Montana and Colorado for as low as $3.25."

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