The Forest Service has approved the harvest of about 44 million board feet of timber in sales near Wrangell Island and Ketchikan.
The Madan timber sale would allow the harvest of 26.5 million board feet from about 2,100 acres on the mainland near Wrangell Island. The four-year sale is scheduled to be offered in fall of 2005.
The Licking Creek timber sale would allow for the harvest of 17 million board feet from about 800 acres on Revillagigedo Island near Ketchikan. It is slated to be packaged with three other sales near Ketchikan into a 10-year contract known as "Painted Peak" and also will be offered some time in 2005, said Forest Service spokesman Kent Cummins.
The 10-year contract is a new sale term the Forest Service proposed this summer in an attempt to give area mills some economic security. Cummins said the Forest Service's first 10-year sale, involving timber on Prince of Wales Island, is scheduled to be offered for sale later this month.
Environmentalists protest the 18 miles of new logging road included in the Madan sale. The Forest Service says nine miles of road will remain open following that sale. The Licking Creek sale includes the construction of three miles of new road, reconstruction of 1.6 miles of existing road and construction of 2.4 miles of temporary road.
"These two decisions are part of our ongoing effort to provide small-scale sales to help local, family-run mills keep operating and create jobs in Southeast Alaska," said Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole.
Emily Ferry with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council said that the Forest Service expects to lose $2 million on the Madan sale.
"This timber sale doesn't make dollars or sense at a time when there are other uses of the area," Ferry said.
But Charlie Streuli, a fire and forest management officer, said timber markets fluctuate and the $2 million dollar loss is based on the current markets.
"We are in a low market, so in a higher market the sale could be positive. The sale is scheduled to be offered for sale in 2005. The market could turn positive," Streuli said.
Streuli also stressed that the Forest Service offers timber sales every year, regardless of market conditions, to provide jobs and stimulate the economy in rural Southeast communities.
But Ferry said logging jobs aren't as in demand as they used to be.
"The economy of Southeast Alaska is changing. Residents have recognized this in the way they do business. The Forest Service should do the same," she said.
Notices of appeal must be filed by the end of October for the Licking Creek sale and by early November for the Madan sale.
Notices of appeal may be sent to: Regional Forester, Alaska Region; U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service; P.O. Box 21628; Juneau, AK 99802.
Copies of the Madan Record of Decision and final environmental impact statement may be obtained by writing to Dick Cozby; Wrangell Ranger District; 525 Bennett St.; P.O. Box 51; Wrangell, AK 99929 or calling (907) 874-2323. Copies of the Licking Creek Record of Decision and final EIS may be obtained by writing to Jerry Ingersoll; Ketchikan-Misty Fiords Ranger District; 3031 Tongass Avenue; Ketchikan, AK 99901 or calling (907) 228-4100.
Masha Herbst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.