Resource Development Council

RDC Letter:
HB 32 - An Act relating to the sale of timber on state land

February 6, 2015

Senator Cathy Giessel, Chair
Senate Resources Committee
State Capitol
Juneau, AK 99801

RE: HB 32, Timber Sales

Dear Senator Giessel,

I am writing on behalf of the Resource Development Council of Alaska (RDC) to support passage of HB 87 “An Act relating to the sale of timber on state land; and providing for an effective date.”

RDC is a statewide business association representing forestry, oil and gas, mining, tourism, and fishing industries. Our mission is to grow Alaska through responsible resource development. RDC supports policies aimed at ensuring a reliable and economical long-term State and federal timber supply.

In the decades since the State’s timber sale authorizing statutes were last amended, the demand for wood fiber from State lands for energy purposes has increased significantly in response to escalating fuel oil costs and State capital investment through the renewable energy capital grant program. As a result wood fiber for biomass energy has grown into an important component of forest products from State timber sales.

What has also changed over the past decades is the dependence of our remaining Southeast Alaska mills on timber sales from State lands. In some circumstances negotiated State timber sales are essential in keeping what is left of our remaining manufacturing capacity operating.

RDC agrees with the administration, as articulated in Governor Walker’s transmittal letter, that competitive timber sales are the preferred means of selling timber under most conditions. However some circumstances warrant the flexibility of offering negotiated sales at appraised fair market value in order to ensure a reliable supply of raw material to mills. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a good track record of limiting its negotiated sales to those circumstances where it is clearly in the State’s best interest, and the added flexibility afforded to the DNR Commissioner by this surgical statutory revision will provide needed flexibility required by today’s realities of timber supply and markets.

By giving the DNR Commissioner added flexibility in offering negotiated sales and clarifying that users of wood fiber are also eligible for negotiated sales, the State will have tools appropriate to conditions that frankly were not part of the timber supply landscape when State’s timber sale statutes were last revised.

These amendments support recommendations of the 2012 Alaska Timber Jobs Task Force. The task force recommendations were developed with input from leaders in the timber industry and have been endorsed by the Alaska Board of Forestry.

RDC encourages the passage of SB 32 from committee.

Resource Development Council for Alaska