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

Environmental groups ask state to cancel Baby Brown timber sale again


August 12, 2021

Lynn Canal Conservation (LCC), Earthjustice and a few other environmental groups sent two letters to the Alaska Division of Forestry requesting that the state cancel its Baby Brown timber sale. They allege the state merged two sale areas into one without proper public notice.

“There are several significant issues with this sale, which could be summed up by saying that the state did not provide adequate analysis and public process for this timber sale,” LCC director Jessica Plachta wrote in an email to the CVN.

In 2017, the state canceled a Baby Brown sale—37 miles north of Haines—after LCC objected on the grounds that the state hadn’t completed a forest land use plan for the entire harvest area.

In April, the state awarded Oregon-based company Northwest Forest Products the 1,000-acre Baby Brown sale for $423,455. It was the largest timber sale in the Haines State Forest in more than 20 years.

The state merged the Baby Brown harvest area with another, "Glacier Side #2," 145 acres that had been awarded separately to a contractor in 2015. The Glacier Side #2 area originally was part of Baby Brown and was included in the state's preliminary best interest finding for Baby Brown but not the final finding, which came out after Glacier Side #2 was sold independently.

The Glacier Side #2 contract defaulted after three years of inactivity, according to deputy state forester Tim Dabney. So the timber was made available again.

Dabney said the state combined the documents associated with the two harvest areas “for simplicity” and that “the public was involved in (and) had the opportunity to comment (on)and appeal” the best interest findings and land use plans for both areas.

The conservation organizations took issue with this spring's combined sale, which Plachta wrote was done “in an irregular matter” that eliminated the chance for a legal challenge “at the usual point in the process.”

“The impacts are different for this larger sale, and the state is required to consider the cumulative impacts and to listen to the public,” Plachta wrote, adding that LCC believes the sale violated a statute that requires the state to provide the public with written findings that a timber sale is in the state’s best interest.

Plachta wrote that LCC supports “small, local timber sales that benefit local people” but that larger sales like Baby Brown “put all the benefits of an intact forest at risk.”

Dabney said the state is reviewing the environmental groups’ requests, which "are not appeals," but he “doesn’t know what, if any, response there will be.”


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