King concerns among Forestry plan comments
April 12, 2018
A local nonprofit group and an advisory committee are urging the state Division of Forestry to halt timber sales planned for the next five years that will adversely affect Chinook salmon populations.
The division recently released its five-year forest management schedule for the Haines State Forest, which documents proposed timber harvests in the valley through 2022.
Among the biggest sales are the Baby Brown Timber Sale, 20 million board feet, and the sales of 10 million and 5.7 million board feet of timber to improve access to Chilkat Lake.
The forest plan also accounts for road installations for each sale, prescribed burns, thinning, pruning, replanting and inventory field work.
The sale of about 100 million board feet of Sitka spruce by the University of Alaska was announced after the document was released.
Lynn Canal Conservation executive director Elsa Sebastian submitted a 24-page document of comments to Haines forester Greg Palmieri last month. The group is calling for a halt to all large timber sales until the Haines State Forest Management Plan, adopted in 2002, is reviewed and updated.
It also suggested the moratorium as an effort to restore king salmon numbers and to avoid adding impacts that would be caused if a large-scale mine were to open in the Chilkat watershed.
The nonprofit also claimed the scale of the timber offerings are not appropriate for the size of the local timber industry, and that the Division of Forestry failed to follow legal procedure in creating the schedule.
The Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Committee also submitted a statement that requested “all logging sales scheduled in the Five-Year Forest Management Schedule that occur within the Kelsall watershed, which is critical habitat for spawning and rearing Chilkat Chinook salmon, be removed from the sale at this time.”
Chairperson Tim McDonough, on behalf of the committee, wrote, “We feel it would be counter-productive and irresponsible to intentionally introduce any potential risk to a stock in such imminent peril.”
In response to a question about the proposed moratorium, Palmieri said the Division of Forestry’s decision to harvest timber will occur after a process of evaluation that includes agency professionals and the public “in the form of a best interest finding and a site-specific forest land use plan.”
“In this way resource impacts are identified and addressed with additional detailed information allowing agencies to provide specifics to ensure successful management of resources,” Palmieri said. “This is a collaborative management process to create responsible resource use on the Haines State Forest.”
The comment period for the five-year management plan ended March 15. Palmieri said the Division of Forestry is now preparing a response document.