November 28, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 47

DNR, University ink forest pact

A recent memorandum of understanding that allows the state Division of Forestry to develop timber sales for the University of Alaska on Haines State Forest land won’t change much about the amount of logging here, forester Greg Palmieri said this week.

The agreement applies to 1,800 acres of commercial forest land, mostly in the Sunshine Mountain area, including along the Porcupine Road. Most of the locally-purchased sales from university land there are likely to be 10 acres and under, Palmieri said.

Sales of timber there would be attractive to local buyers because they wouldn’t require construction of new roads, Palmieri said.

“They need us as a manager here. That’s what the memorandum of understanding does. It allows us to facilitate (timber) sales for them. They still have to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to (sales),” he said.

The university holds about 13,000 acres in the 330,000-acre state forest. The state Division of Forestry entered into a similar arrangement about five years ago with the Alaska Mental Health Trust, which holds 2,000 acres of state forest land. That agreement has facilitated small, recent sales near 38 Mile Haines Highway and Herman Creek.

The agreement with the university also would allow the state to offer larger sales in the event the export timber market improves. “It’s a good idea to be prepared if there’s an upturn in the market. They need us as a (manager) here,” Palmieri said.

University land was last logged here in the early 1990s, in a combined sale with DNR lands in the “Sunshine Connection Sale” that created the Sunshine Mountain link to the Porcupine.

Three small logging outfits currently operating in the local forest are after timber for house logs, beams and lumber.

The last large timber sale in the forest was the Klehini beetle sale in 1998 for more than 1 million board feet of timber. “People have been interested in timber in recent years but no one’s put together a practical plan that seems feasible,” Palmieri said.

The state’s forest plan sets an allowable cut of up to 5.9 million board feet of timber annually but average sales in recent years have totaled about one-tenth that amount, he said.