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

University cancels Chilkat timber sale


March 8, 2018

The University of Alaska is withdrawing its controversial timber sale on 400 acres of land on the Chilkat Peninsula and will instead focus on residential development, according to University staff.

The Haines Borough Assembly in November voted to evaluate the borough’s legal options if the University of Alaska awarded a timber sale contract because “the proposed University timber sale violates all existing provisions for commercial use in the Mud Bay rural residential zone as well as the purpose and intent of that code.”

The vote came after several meetings between University staff and the planning commission members and assembly members who largely opposed the timber sale because it would occur in a residential zone.

At the time, University land management staff said building roads to access residential lots would be cost prohibitive. Christine Klein, University chief facilities and lands officer, said this week the University is in the process of submitting a platting proposal to the borough.

“It will be much costlier for us this way, but maybe in light of the broader area, and things we have in our remaining holdings, I think we can do this,” Klein said. “This might be our highest and best use of that land.”

University Resource Manager Patrick Kelly said the University will need to cut timber and extract gravel to build roads.

“How do we get to that win-win for everyone?” Kelly said.

Klein said they will pursue a timber sale in the future on holdings in a different area of the Chilkoot Peninsula that’s zoned for general use.

“I think something like that will be forthcoming in the near future,” Klein said.

The University’s Board of Regents triggered the initial timber sale in the Mud Bay Land Use Service Area in September after the planning commission discussed limiting resource extraction in the rural residential zone.

The planning commission is still working to redefine resource extraction.

Commission chair Rob Goldberg said the University is making the right decision. “I think that will be a big relief to all the people out here in Mud Bay because most of the comments we heard at our meetings are from people that didn’t want that timber sale to happen. From a purely economic standpoint I think they’re doing the best thing for the University.”


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