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

Part-time forestry job survives budget cuts

 


The state Division of Forestry office isn’t closed yet.

The Alaska Legislature this year axed most of the funding for the office, which laid off area forester Roy Josephson, a 30-year veteran, on June 30. But Greg Palmieri, a fire and resource forester whose pay largely comes from a separate pot of statewide fire suppression funds, has been told to stay on.

Palmieri said he has been told by superiors only to stay on the job. He said he expects to hear more after the Interior firefighting season. “They told me there was nine months of funding. I’m hoping they can fund me for the coming year, but nobody’s promised me that,” Palmieri said.

Palmieri said he would attempt to cover the same work as the office previously performed, but Josephson’s departure would mean some tasks will take longer.

Josephson was hired in 1984, when up to 10 million board feet of timber per year were logged and the forestry office employed seven workers. But the Lutak sawmill shut down after he started on the job and a forest plan was adopted that slowed the pace of commercial harvest.

Josephson said he would miss the variety of work that came with the job, including arranging and administering timber sales, monitoring forest insect infestation and disease, and conducting forest inventories.

“Area foresters in other places only deal with people and problems instead of doing field work,” Josephson said. “I like walking in the woods. I got to spend a lot of time walking in the woods for work.”

Chris Maisch, the director of the state Division of Forestry, said Josephson was an “outstanding” forester who brought a can-do approach to work.

In 2000, Josephson was named Northern Southeast Area Forester, expanding his responsibilities to include forest practices in the region, and University of Alaska operations in Icy Bay. He also led some notable special projects for the division, Maisch said.

Tour operator and former state forestry technician Dan Egolf said Josephson was a great boss.

“He kept very good notes and he treated the public well. He was very helpful to people,” Egolf said. “Members of the public coming into the office got a good product from Roy, people from all different interest groups. Our boss in Juneau told us if we were pissing off the conservationists and the developers, we were doing our job right.”

 
 

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