Legislature(2011 - 2012)BUTROVICH 205

02/19/2011 10:00 AM RESOURCES

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Heard & Held
Public Comment
Heard & Held
Public Comment
                 SB  44-SOUTHEAST STATE FOREST                                                                              
CO-CHAIR WAGONER announced the consideration of SB 44.                                                                          
12:07:14 PM                                                                                                                   
WADE  ZAMMIT, President  and  CEO,  Sealaska Timber  Corporation,                                                               
testified in  support of SB  44 on behalf  of Ron Wolfe.  He said                                                               
that there is an expected  decline in the population of Southeast                                                               
Alaska  and  this  is  mirrored  in  the  health  of  the  timber                                                               
industry.  He explained  that Sealaska  believes that  the timber                                                               
industry  is  essential  to  the  economy  of  Southeast  Alaska.                                                               
Currently, a  vast majority of  the Southeast region is  owned by                                                               
the federal government; with 87 percent  of the area set aside as                                                               
parks,    wildernesses,    national     monuments    and    other                                                               
classifications  that  preclude   development.  Development  that                                                               
occurs  on the  remaining land  must achieve  resource protection                                                               
through various  federal regulatory compliances. SB  44 will help                                                               
stabilize the timber from state  lands and allow state forests to                                                               
be managed in a sustainable  fashion. These lands will be managed                                                               
in  accordance with  the Alaska  Forest  Resources and  Practices                                                               
Act, which has  demonstrated to be working well  to protect water                                                               
quality, anadromous  fish habitats,  and wildlife. He  noted that                                                               
his testimony has  also been submitted to the  committee for full                                                               
12:10:03 PM                                                                                                                   
JEREMY  MAXAND,  representing himself,  commented  on  SB 44.  He                                                               
expressed  concern that  the vast  majority  of timber  harvested                                                               
from  the Wrangell  Island would  be  round log  exported to  the                                                               
lower 48 or  another country for value-added  processing. He said                                                               
that  he wants  to see  the trees  in the  state forest  directly                                                               
benefit the communities  they were taken from  and are impacting.                                                               
Currently, by  using the forest  within a multi-use  category the                                                               
community benefits  from forest recreation and  habitat. However,                                                               
if these  forests transfer to  state forests and  are immediately                                                               
shipped out of the state there  will be no incentive for Wrangell                                                               
to revitalize their  timber economy for long term  usage. He said                                                               
that he hopes SB 44, as  it moves forward, will contain some very                                                               
strong language  which would create  incentives to keep  the logs                                                               
in Alaska to be processed and used locally.                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR WAGONER  asked if there  is any effort in  the community                                                               
to  start  a business  which  could  use  the timber  instead  of                                                               
exporting it.                                                                                                                   
MR.  MAXAND replied  that there  is a  ten-year proposed  Tongass                                                               
sale  that the  community of  Wrangell is  looking into.  He said                                                               
that they  are concerned these trees  will be cut down  too fast.                                                               
Wrangell has a  unique opportunity because there is  mill site in                                                               
existence and,  with the logs  on the island, could  be sustained                                                               
for a  long time. However,  if the incentive  is to have  a large                                                               
company come in, cut the trees  down, and ship the logs out, then                                                               
that is  what will happen.  He asked what  the state is  doing to                                                               
help communities  have a sustainable  timber operation.  He noted                                                               
that the  community would  love to  help and  support legislation                                                               
focused on that issue.                                                                                                          
12:14:46 PM                                                                                                                   
CARL  PORTMAN,  Deputy  Director,  Resource  Development  Council                                                               
(RDC),  testified  in  support  of   SB  44.  He  explained  that                                                               
expanding  the  forest would  help  sustain  the forest  products                                                               
industry,  save  jobs,  and  help the  economy.  The  state  land                                                               
identified  for inclusion  into  the new  state  forest has  been                                                               
consistently managed for timber  harvesting. Designation of these                                                               
forests would  ensure that they  would remain in  state ownership                                                               
and support  the forest products industry  long-term in Southeast                                                               
Alaska. He  noted that a  majority of timber in  Southeast Alaska                                                               
is on  federal land;  however federal  timber sales  have sharply                                                               
declined. Much  of the  new state  forest contains  young second-                                                               
growth  stands and  there is  broad support  for shifting  timber                                                               
harvesting in Southeast Alaska from  old growth to second growth.                                                               
The new state  forest and proposed additional  partials will help                                                               
provide  a   sustainable  timber   supply  to  local   mills  and                                                               
accelerate the transition to second-growth  timber. He noted that                                                               
95 percent of  the Tongass National Forest is  closed to logging.                                                               
The Tongass  itself comprises about  94 percent of the  land base                                                               
in  Southeast  Alaska.  He  explained   that  as  a  result  land                                                               
management in  Southeast Alaska is weighted  towards conservation                                                               
and  non-development   uses.  Under  the  current   Tongass  Land                                                               
Management plan the annual harvest  ceiling has been reduced from                                                               
527 million  board feet  to 267  million. He  noted that  only 30                                                               
million  board feet  of  timber has  been  harvested annually  in                                                               
recent  years, which  is less  than 15  percent of  the allowable                                                               
He  explained that  in regards  to state  land the  Department of                                                               
Natural Resources (DNR) manages over  159,000 acres of uplands in                                                               
southern Southeast Alaska. Of  this land, approximately one-third                                                               
would be in the  state forest if SB 44 is  enacted. He noted that                                                               
the  remaining  land   is  designated  to  other   uses  such  as                                                               
recreation, water sources, and land sales.                                                                                      
12:19:06 PM                                                                                                                   
OWEN GRAHAM,  Secretary, Alaska Forest Association,  testified in                                                               
support of  SB 44. He  said that thus  far Ketchikan has  lost 85                                                               
percent  of their  employment in  the timber  industry, due  to a                                                               
lack of timber  supply. This piece of legislation  will help with                                                               
this  and  they  encourage  any additions  to  the  timber  sales                                                               
program in the  future. He noted that  the association encourages                                                               
local manufacture and  the best way to do so  is by having enough                                                               
timber supply  to sustain the  mills. Most  of the wood  that the                                                               
state  has sold  in the  last  five years  has been  domestically                                                               
processed. However, he explained that  the state needs to hang on                                                               
to log  exports as a tool  to manage their programs  if the local                                                               
or domestic market is not doing well.                                                                                           
12:21:49 PM                                                                                                                   
ELAINE  PRICE,  Project  Manager,   City  Council,  testified  in                                                               
support  of  SB 44.  She  said  that  part  of the  state  forest                                                               
expansion  would   be  in  Coffman   Cove  and  will   provide  a                                                               
sustainable  base  for timber  management.  She  agreed with  Mr.                                                               
Maxand that these  forests should be locally  beneficial by being                                                               
manufactured  locally. Because  of the  way the  Tongass National                                                               
Forest is currently being managed  it is not dependable and every                                                               
timber sale has  a law suit filed against it.  She noted that the                                                               
Viking Mill currently  employs 45 people directly  in Klawock and                                                               
is a huge economic benefit to Prince of Wales Island as a whole.                                                                
12:23:43 PM                                                                                                                   
MIKE SALLEE,  Owner and operator  of a small saw  mill, testified                                                               
in opposition  of SB 44. He  said one of the  parcels proposed in                                                               
this bill  is North Gravina  which lies adjacent to  his family's                                                               
homestead. He explained  that the logging of  Mental Health Trust                                                               
Land on  other parts  of Gravina has  trashed numerous  areas and                                                               
severely  limits passage  through them.  He said  that converting                                                               
parcels to state forest in order  to realize the return on future                                                               
investments  in   thinning  is  not  justified.   The  amount  of                                                               
previously logged lands  in the North Gravina  parcel consists of                                                               
a  very few  steeply  sloped areas  in one  small  corner of  the                                                               
parcel. He noted that another distressing  aspect of SB 44 is the                                                               
contingent practice of  round-log export. He explained  that as a                                                               
mill operator he  gets numerous requests for yellow  cedar and he                                                               
finds  it egregious  that Alaska  "allows the  continued bleeding                                                               
away of  wood-processing jobs  with round  log exports."  He said                                                               
that SB 44,  in its current form, primarily benefits  a few large                                                               
scale timber operators.                                                                                                         
12:27:01 PM                                                                                                                   
PAUL MCINTOSH,  representing himself, testified in  support of SB                                                               
44. He explained  that he lived in Southeast Alaska  from 1978 to                                                               
2001 and  witnessed the closure  of the  pulp mills in  Sitka and                                                               
Ketchikan.  The  majority of  the  land  in Southeast  Alaska  is                                                               
federal  land and  one-third of  the Tongass  National Forest  is                                                               
congressionally  designated wilderness.  He  stressed that  there                                                               
are no  federal acres  in Southeast  Alaska that  are permanently                                                               
designated for  sustainable, science-based, and  long-term timber                                                               
management.  He questioned  how a  forest product  business could                                                               
even  consider  this timber  supply  reliable  or economical  for                                                               
purposes of  business planning. He urged  the committee's support                                                               
of SB 44.                                                                                                                       
12:30:01 PM                                                                                                                   
ERIC LEE,  representing himself,  expressed strong  concern about                                                               
SB 44.  He said that  the timber  industry claims that  round log                                                               
export can create jobs and there  is very little money to be made                                                               
in  the  domestic  market.  However, round  log  export  is  only                                                               
valuable in the  short-term, it is not  sustainable. He explained                                                               
that when  the trees  are gone, the  logging companies  leave and                                                               
the jobs  are gone. He said  that on the other  hand local value-                                                               
added processing creates  jobs that are sustainable,  stay in the                                                               
community, add to  the local economy, and concern  the forest for                                                               
subsistence uses.  The notion that  round log export is  good for                                                               
the local economies  is a myth. SB 44 is  about gaining access to                                                               
timber that  can be  exported in  the round  because the  laws on                                                               
such exporting on  federal lands are much more  stringent than on                                                               
state land.                                                                                                                     
12:33:40 PM                                                                                                                   
JOSEPH SEBASTIAN, commercial  fisherman, expressed strong concern                                                               
on SB  44. He  said that  the real  problem is  that there  is no                                                               
future  in  logging  and  exporting  cathedral  cedar  trees.  He                                                               
explained that the majority of  sales will be exported. These are                                                               
trees that  are 400 to  600 years  old and are  irreplaceable. He                                                               
noted that the  wide distance between the  proposed partials will                                                               
make  it expensive  and  difficult to  administer.  He said  that                                                               
"what were  once federal deficit  timber sales will now  be state                                                               
deficit timber sales."                                                                                                          
12:37:43 PM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR WAGONER closed on-line testimony.                                                                                      
12:37:50 PM                                                                                                                   
SHELLY   WRIGHT,   Executive  Director,   Southeast   Conference,                                                               
testified in support  of SB 44. She said that  the communities in                                                               
Southeast  Alaska  are struggling  to  survive  and part  of  the                                                               
struggle is a  lack of jobs. She explained that  there used to be                                                               
a  timber industry  in Southeast  that supported  communities and                                                               
gave financial  support for schools and  infrastructure. She said                                                               
that she  has been told that  the timber industry is  "a thing of                                                               
the  past."  However,  an  article  in  the  Juneau  Empire  just                                                               
recently stated  that the Alaska State  Retirement Fund officials                                                               
are looking to invest in the timber industry in the lower 48.                                                                   
She  explained that  the  state forest  will be  a  small way  to                                                               
stabilize  investments   in  the  future  for   communities.  The                                                               
existence of  a timber  industry in  Southeast Alaska  depends on                                                               
immediate action  in order  to provide  a supply  of economically                                                               
viable sales.  She stressed  that there are  17 million  acres in                                                               
the Tongass  National Forest and  SB 44 will secure  48,472 acres                                                               
for timber harvest  management by the Division  of Forestry. This                                                               
is a small amount  of land in the big picture, but  it could go a                                                               
long  way  in maintaining  the  stability  of Southeast  Alaska's                                                               
people. She urged  the committee to support the  expansion of the                                                               
Alaska State Forest through SB  44 and stressed the importance of                                                               
opening the  Tongass National Forest  up to  responsible resource                                                               
12:41:55 PM                                                                                                                   
LINDSAY   KETCHAL,    Executive   Director,    Southeast   Alaska                                                               
Conservation Council (SEACC), expressed  concern about SB 44. She                                                               
said she serves on the  Tongass Futures Round Table and described                                                               
discussions  they  had about  how  to  maintain a  viable  timber                                                               
industry. She  recognized that  part of  SB 44  is an  attempt to                                                               
help sustain some  of this existing industry, such as  "ma and pa                                                               
businesses,"  Icy   Straits,  and   Viking  Mill.   However,  the                                                               
locations of  some of the proposed  parcels do not make  sense in                                                               
regards to the  location of these mills. The  question that needs                                                               
to be  addressed is: "how are  we going to develop  and sustain a                                                               
sustainable wood  product industry in Southeast?"  She said that,                                                               
ultimately,  in order  to tackle  this  issue it  should be  done                                                               
comprehensively  and not  in  small pieces.  The  way that  these                                                               
parcels are aligned  the timber will most likely  be exported and                                                               
will not go  to small mills. She explained that  there's a lot of                                                               
opportunity to create  work in Southeast forests.  She noted that                                                               
the Forest Service  did announce that they  are transitioning out                                                               
of old growth forests. She  explained that the reason behind this                                                               
is that old growth forests  hold important ecological values. She                                                               
said that  she believes that a  small old growth industry  can be                                                               
maintained  as  well  as  the   existing  mills.  This  piece  of                                                               
legislation  will not  solve this  issue.  She said  "many of  us                                                               
would prefer to work comprehensively at this."                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR   WAGONER   asked   why  the   transition   to   working                                                               
comprehensively  has not  occurred yet.  He said  that this  is a                                                               
very small  amount of timber  and is a  method to save  jobs that                                                               
currently exist in Alaska.                                                                                                      
MS. CATCHALL  replied that the  distance of the  parcel locations                                                               
needs to be analyzed. She  explained that SEACC was involved with                                                               
the Kake  community forest planning  process in order to  aid the                                                               
community in deciding what it wanted  its landscape to be and how                                                               
to create jobs.  She stressed that it is important  to focus on a                                                               
community-by-community level, empower  their voices, and continue                                                               
with the  Round Table  and other  gatherings. She  explained that                                                               
the reduction in the timber industry  has been so severe that the                                                               
industry is  in shock. It  is difficult  to then turn  around and                                                               
accept a  smaller and more  agile business method. She  said that                                                               
when she  speaks with  new entrepreneurs  in the  timber industry                                                               
such as Larry  Jackson in Ketchikan, she sees them  wanting to be                                                               
creative. She stressed  that jobs in the woods  are important for                                                               
12:47:46 PM                                                                                                                   
FRED  MORINO, representing  himself, testified  in support  of SB                                                               
44.  He said  he has  been involved  in financing  in the  timber                                                               
industry since 1970.  He explained that the  United States Forest                                                               
Service  has 27  billion  board feet  of  harvestable old  growth                                                               
timber. He noted  that Alaska has not even  harvested 100 million                                                               
board feet  of timber yet. He  said that "the state  of Alaska is                                                               
the timber  industry in Southeast  Alaska now" and the  state has                                                               
the  responsibility  to develop  this  timber  for employment  in                                                               
12:50:44 PM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR WAGONER closed public testimony. [The bill was held in                                                                 
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Co-Chair Wagoner adjourned the meeting at 12:50 p.m.                                                                            

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