Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Forester job clears initial hurdlle

 


The state House of Representatives Finance Committee approved an amendment last week that could lead to funding for a nine-month forester position in Haines.

State Rep. Justin Parish, D-Juneau, first proposed the amendment in a natural resources subcommittee to provide $107,000 from the general fund for a local forester.

Haines lobbyist Bill Thomas said Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan, Rep. Sam Kito, D-Juneau, and Haines resident CJ Jones all pushed for the amendment.

The amendment passed 7-4 in the committee, but House Bill 57 – dealing with the state budget – will need to be passed in its entirety by the House.

The state Senate is working on its own budget legislation, said an aide in Rep. Kito’s office. If the forester funding amendment is not also included in the Senate’s budget bill, then it will be discussed in a conference committee between House and Senate members before the end of the legislative session.

Thomas said Tuesday the amendment is now among more than 350 amendments to House Bill 57 being debated on the House floor this week. Another amendment would need to be made to remove it.

When asked what Haines could do to help the funding go through, Thomas said it’s now in the hands of the House of Representatives.

“If Haines was to do anything, they might want to provide (the forester) an office,” Thomas said. That would cut down expenses from state funding. Thomas said any more funding needed for the position will come from the state Department of Natural Resources.

“Bill Seward had previously made a commitment to provide office space for the DNR Forester,” said interim borough manager Brad Ryan. “I will work to help live up to this promise.”

In a letter to Representatives Parish and Ortiz, Lynn Canal Conservation president Eric Holle said the organization takes no position on the funding of the local forestry office funding.

“If it is funded, we suggest that both the state and local community will be better served if the office is directed to focus on small (timber) sales to local operators, wildfire suppression, enhancing recreational opportunities, and developing additional uses for forest products that do not threaten economic or ecological stability,” Holle said.

 
 

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