Resource Development Council

RDC Comment Letter:
Additional Lands to Southeast State Forest

January 5, 2011

Mr. Chris Maisch, State Forester
Division of Forestry
550 W. 7th Avenue, Suite 1450
Anchorage, AK 99501

RE: Additional Lands to Southeast State Forest

Dear Mr. Maisch:

The Resource Development Council (RDC) is writing to support the inclusion of an additional 23,181 acres to the Southeast State Forest. This state land in southern Southeast Alaska is appropriately suited for inclusion into the new state forest as it has been consistently managed for timber harvest. A state forest designation over these lands would expand the Southeast State Forest to 48,472 acres and ensure they will remain in state ownership and contribute to the long-term viability of the forest products industry in Southeast Alaska.

RDC is a statewide, non-profit, membership-funded organization founded in 1975. The RDC membership is comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, timber, tourism, and fisheries industries, as well as Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to link these diverse interests together to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.

RDC supported the creation of the 25,291-acre Southeast State Forest, which was established in June 2010. In Southeast Alaska, demand for state timber exceeds supply and local mills are dependent on a consistent supply to stay in business. The majority of the timber in Southeast Alaska is on federal land, but federal timber sales have declined sharply. Subsequently, the demand for state timber from local mills has increased significantly.

Much of the new state forest was inherited from the U.S. Forest Service with young second-growth stands. There is broad support for shifting timber harvesting in Southeast Alaska from old growth to second growth stands. The new state forest and the proposed additional parcels to it will help provide a sustainable timber supply to local mills and accelerate the harvest of second-growth timber. Actively managed second-growth stands will provide more timber volume per acre on shorter rotations.

The shift to second-growth harvesting can be accelerated and timber volume increased on state land by thinning these stands. However, thinning is a long-term investment and is only justified if the land will be available for timber harvesting.

The Division of Forestry will manage the state forest for a long-term supply of timber to local processors, and retain the land in state ownership for multiple use, including wildlife habitat and harvest, as well as recreational activities. The forest will be managed as part of the State Forest System in accordance with a new management plan that will be developed within the next three years. In the interim, existing guidance under the current Prince of Wales Island Area Plan and Central/Southern Southeast area plans will apply.

RDC supports the proposed additions to the Southeast State Forest from lands currently available for timber harvest and believes a larger state forest in the region will benefit the economy.

Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.