New State Timber Task Force Announced
May 5, 2011, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell has issued an Administrative Order creating a new state timber task force. The task force will focus on developing recommendations that will lead to new jobs in the timber industry, particularly in traditional timber harvesting from federal, state, and private lands.
“Hard working Alaskans, their families, communities, and schools are caught between the policies of the current federal administration moving away from traditional timber harvesting and the endless litigation by national environmental organizations against timber sales,” Governor Parnell said. “There were 8 injunction requests filed by environmental groups against the Logjam sale and the Alaskan jobs the sale is supporting right now on Prince of Wales Island at the Viking Lumber Mill.
“The task force will focus on reasonable approaches and recommendations to grow jobs and foster economic development - particularly in areas where the state has some control over, including the recently expanded Southeast State Forest. While we will continue to pursue federal timber sales for traditional harvest, I look forward to receiving task force recommendations that will focus more on state efforts. In order to focus limited state resources on efforts that will lead to new jobs, the state will also be withdrawing from the Tongass Futures Roundtable. Any roundtable proposals that benefit traditional timber harvests and new jobs should certainly be presented to the new task force.”
Southeast Alaska has lost thousands of timber related jobs in the last 15-20 years. Alaska has 365 million of acres of land, of which 17 million acres are Tongass National Forest lands. In the last 3 years, these national forest lands produced roughly 60 million board feet of timber that was bid on and purchased. Not a single one of these sales went unopposed by a national environmental organization. In comparison, Washington State, with about 25 percent of the amount of national forest land that Alaska has, produced 7.9 billion board feet of timber from 21 million acres of public and private forest lands in the same time period.