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By Dan Rudy 

Wrangell residents give input on State forest plan

 


Wrangell residents were able to lend some input to the Alaska Division of Foresty (ADF) April 22, during the third of five hearings the agency is holding in Southeast regarding its upcoming Southeast State Forest Management Plan.

A presentation of the draft plan was delivered at City Hall by ADF forest planner Jim Schwarber and Clarence Clark, the division's timber sales manager for Southeast Alaska, giving community members the opportunity to review the plan before its adoption. Testimony is also being accepted at this time. Particularly, the division is looking for information that can factor into guiding future timber sales.

“Sharing your knowledge is, to me, the most important thing you can do,” Schwarber explained. Information given can help improve the quality of sales plans, taking local use and accessibility into consideration.

The Southeast State Forest (SESF) contains approximately 48,000 acres in 33 units, located on 12 different islands in the region and the adjacent mainland. Wrangell's management area includes 11,198 acres of forest distributed around five locations: Crittenden Creek (3,146 acres), Eastern Passage (630), Pat Creek (2,592), Earl West Cove and Bradfield Canal (2,533).

ADF manages the forests on state lands, for the purpose of developing timber sales. At time, State lands have also served as a “bridge timber” program, supplying wood to local mills when other sources were unavailable.

A new five-year plan is produced every two years to develop a maximum of 12.1 million board feet per year, or 121 million board feet per decade. Feet leftover from the annual limit one year can be rolled over to another, so long as the total footage harvested is kept within the ten-year limit.

The 2,297 acres in Earl West is the only area in Wrangell's unit being considered for sale in the current five-year plan.

New information can also effect corrections to the plan. For instance, the Borough's economic development head Carol Rushmore pointed out that acreage on Zarembo identified in the plan as St. John's Harbor was outdated. The land has since been transferred by municipal entitlement to Wrangell.

Written testimony submitted by resident Stephen Todd asserted that logging at Crittenden Creek could be disruptive to the local salmon population, with its summer coho and the kings nearby at Point Babbler. Todd also mentioned the creek and old-growth forest there support fur-bearing mammals and wintering deer and that the aesthetic effects of clear-cuts around Crittenden could adversely affect the business of outfitters running visitors to Anan Wildlife Observatory.

With the current economic and financial climates, future development on Crittenden was also identified as potentially posing a problem, as it lacks pre-existing infrastructure. The cost of developing and maintaining lumber roads would have to be factored in, and a sale might have to be postponed until market conditions become more favorable so as not to incur a loss.

ADF is still taking written testimony today until 4 p.m. After input is collected, the division will compile comments into a usable format to be reconciled with the plan before conveying it to the Board of Forestry for review and possible adoption.

Schwarber said they hope to have a management plan that has gone through a more than adequate public review process by the summer's end.

Additional information on the plan and the hearing process are available online at http://www.

forestry.alaska.gov/stateforests.

htm#sesf.

 

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