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Governor Parnell Moves to Increase Alaska Timber Sales

January 18, 2013, Juneau, Alaska – In a move to increase timber sales, and acting on recommendations from the Alaska Timber Jobs Task Force, Governor Sean Parnell introduced legislation creating the Susitna State Forest and expanding the conditions under which the state could offer negotiated timber sales.

The creation of the Susitna State Forest will aid in development and increased access to lands and in turn increase timber sales for small mills and commercial firewood businesses. The legislation ensures the long-term availability of timber supply to support commercial and personal use, creating economic growth and job opportunities for Alaskan communities.

The governor’s bill gives greater flexibility to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to negotiate timber sales. Under existing statutes, DNR is prohibited from offering negotiated timber sales larger than 500,000 board-feet unless the sale area has high unemployment, underutilized manufacturing capacity, and an underutilized timber supply that will lose value due to insects, disease, fire or conversion to non-forest uses. This prohibits larger negotiated timber sales in many areas of the state that are actively managed for forestry, and where there is high demand for timber products and biomass energy. Many of these timber stands are not suited for dimensional lumber purposes, however the biomass can provide cheaper, locally produced and renewable alternative energy. Additionally, the economic activity associated with the biomass production will stimulate local economies in communities throughout Alaska. Governor Parnell’s bill expands the conditions under which the state can offer negotiated timber sales to encourage the use of local energy sources.

The Susitna State Forest would join the Haines State Forest, the Tanana Valley State Forest, and the Southeast State Forest, created by Governor Parnell’s legislation passed in 2011, as part of the state forest system. The proposed Susitna State Forest includes 33 parcels totaling approximately 763,200 acres in 14 large management blocks.

Created by Administrative Order 258, signed by Governor Parnell, the Alaska Timber Jobs Task Force focused on developing recommendations leading to new economic development and timber industry jobs, particularly in traditional timber harvests from federal, state, and private lands.

A copy of the governor’s bill and transmittal letter are available at:

http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell_media/resources_files/susitna_bill_with_letters.pdf

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