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Forest funds to bring $103K in projects to Haines Borough


September 8, 2011

The Haines Borough will likely receive about $103,000 in projects from $1 million designated in 2008 for federal forest projects in northern Southeast communities.

Projects in the borough include $55,000 for restoration of an airstrip and cabin at Katzehin flats, $29,900 for weed control, including at the Haines ferry terminal, and $18,800 for improvements to roads and fish habitat on the Couverden peninsula.

The Couverden work is complete, the weed control project is approved and the Katzehin proposal has the endorsement of the 15-member advisory committee overseeing expenditure of the funds. It awaits approval by Tongass forest supervisor Forrest Cole of Ketchikan.

Local members of the advisory committee include Jim Studley, Jim Shook and Jerry Lapp.

"Considering that our borough is very little in the Tongass, we did pretty good," said member Studley. "The money was for improvements to existing projects and 50 percent had to be spent on roads and trails."

Towns divvying up the money include Haines, Gustavus, Pelican, Angoon and Hoonah. The committee met beginning in April.

Marilyn Parks, treasurer of the Haines Sportsman’s Association, wrote the grant request for the Katzehin, stressing its importance as an emergency landing site and shelter.

"A lot of people don’t even know it’s there, but people who have lived here have used it. There’s been quite a few incidents of the weather coming up and people staying over there," Parks said.

She said most of the money would go toward clearing an old airstrip, about 800 feet from the cabin, which has become overgrown recently. At least $10,000 will go to engineering airstrip improvements.

"I’ve already talked to a number of people who are excited about it and want to go over and work on it. I think it’s a fun project," Parks said.

The cabin is a rustic shelter built from a shipping container and barged to Katzehin by Skagway resident Scott Logan about 40 years ago. It was donated to the Forest Service but the agency discontinued maintenance of the structure around 2002.

Carpenter Terry Jacobson replaced the roof on the building five years ago with material donated by a local lumberyard. He said the one-room structure is an old shipping container measuring about 12 by 20 feet, with a porch. "It’s in pretty good shape. The porch needs new posts and some deck work," Jacobson said.

Haines Elks proposed the invasive species work as a potential fund-raiser for youth groups, Studley said. The idea is to have groups earn money pulling up invasive weeds near the ferry terminal. Weed-pullers would be required to receive training and – to spread the money around – groups would be limited to a few miles of weed-pulling each.

Rich Jennings, the Hoonah district ranger and designated forest officer, said invasive species were recently cited as one of four main threats to the Tongass National Forest. "That’s a high-priority program." The seeds of invasive plants often are carried on vehicles aboard ferries, Jennings said.

Weed-pulling and the Katzehin work are expected to be done in 2012. The money has to be spent or the funds must be obligated by agreement or contract by Sept. 30.

The work near Point Couverden was proposed by "Seaweed," a Gustavus-based group.

Other work approved by the advisory committee includes $304,500 for trail maintenance, tree thinning and weed control in Angoon and $495,000 for a forest stewardship project in Hoonah that includes watershed restoration.

A project in Pelican will restore a trail and old mining route at Bohemian Basin.