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

Logging on Peninsula: University pulls trigger on timber sale in response to potential zoning restrictions


September 21, 2017

Map of parcels owned by the University of Alaska. The university sold land in Letnikof Estates. The timber sale is planned for parcels four miles south of Haines.

The University of Alaska's Board of Regents last week approved a competitive timber sale on about 400 acres of land on the Chilkat Peninsula in response to local discussions on limiting resource extraction in the area.

For the past several months, the Haines Borough Planning Commission has been discussing limiting resource extraction in the Mud Bay Land Use Service Area where the University owns a significant amount of acreage.

Resource extraction is not prohibited in Mud Bay zoning regulations.

In an interview with the CVN, board of regents' vice chair John Davies said the board made the decision last week, in part, to send a message.

"We wanted to make sure that it was known that the university has always intended to and supports the use of that land to sustainably harvest the timber resource there and support the land management fund," Davies said. "I would say we wanted to act on it at that meeting so that would be well known."

The public notice advertises "all or a portion of timber" available for sale.

The university develops, leases and sells its land to generate revenue for its Land Grant Trust Fund and uses the money to provide scholarships.

University of Alaska Director of Facilities and Land Management Christine Klein told the board at its Sept. 14 meeting that the reason they brought the timber sale to them for approval was because of the efforts to place restrictions on the land in the Mud Bay area.

"If we don't move forward with this we may lose the ability to harvest the timber and in doing so we would also lose our ability to check and verify if there is any mineral potential," Klein said during the meeting. "That is basically what this is about, to try and preserve the university's interest in these parcels."

She said several Mud Bay residents who are also on the planning commission "would like to see restrictions on all types of development."

The university received the land in 1984 specifically for logging, Klein said.

The board of regents voted unanimously to approve the timber sale.

University of Alaska Associate Vice President of Public Affairs Robbie Graham said logging will likely only occur on a portion of the parcels in the Mud Bay zoning area, around four miles south of Haines. Detailed maps weren't released by press time.

Graham said those parcels have been logged in the past and are included in the university's 2016 Southeast Alaska Timber Stewardship Plan and five-year Timber Harvest Schedule.

Planning commission chair and Mud Bay resident Rob Goldberg said the intent behind Mud Bay's zoning code was to prohibit large-scale resource extraction. He said when language was drafted they should have drafted code similar to regulations in Lutak zoning code. "Lutak has a sentence that says if a use is not specifically allowed then its prohibited," Goldberg said. "We missed it. We didn't do that. It was not our intent to have large scale, clear cut logging out here. This is a residential area."

University of Alaska Regional Resource Manager Patrick Kelly urged Haines not to go through with a prohibition on resource extraction during a discussion at a Sept. 6 resource extraction committee meeting in Haines.

"Putting prohibitions on things that aren't based on the market impacts the university's ability to make prudent sharing responsibility determinations," Kelly said during the meeting. "You put a number on something but the market demand may be beyond that number, and that is a diminution of the university's property."

Mud Bay resident and Lynn Canal Conservation President Eric Holle said the revenues from such a sale won't amount to much versus the cost of administering the sale.

"Why the university would pursue something that's a proven money loser for the state is beyond me other than them wanting to send a message to the Haines Borough Planning Commission," Holle said.

Graham said the timber tracts are one of the few remaining in the university's land-grant inventory.

The timber sale development and disposal plan can be viewed online at The public can comment by email at Comments must be submitted no later than Oct. 23.


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