Developer considers Petersburg for sawmill

Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2004

JUNEAU (AP) A Washington timber developer wants to inject some much-needed dollars into Petersburg's economy by building a new sawmill.

John Glenn, owner of Glenn Custom Milling in Shelton, Wash., said the project is still "exploratory and preliminary." He has been looking at the prospect of building a new mill in Petersburg for years.

"It's always been my feeling that full manufacturing needed to transpire in Southeast Alaska, and that's what we're looking at," said Glenn, who was raised in Petersburg.

Glenn has discussed the project with Petersburg Mayor Ted Smith and with the state.

"We're for it and we're going to work toward it," said John Manly, spokesperson for Gov. Frank Murkowski. "We'll try to connect them up with the financing that they need or take other helpful actions. That may be working with state lands and trying to get timber available to them, and working with the Forest Service."

Glenn said he is thinking of processing 38 million to 40 million board feet at the Petersburg plant. He said he also would be interested in augmenting that number with lumber from small Southeast mills.

Conditions are more favorable for this sort of development now than they have been in the past, Glenn said. He cited the U.S. Forest Service's move to 10-year timber sales, which was decried by environmental groups that argued the agency didn't have enough bidders for the shorter sales it already offered.

Glenn said problems could arise if there were a change in the White House's attitude toward the Tongass National Forest, which supplies timber to Southeast mills.

"Probably the largest drawback would be a change in the federal feeling on the Tongass and going back to a Clinton administration-type attitude," Glenn said, referring to the Clinton-era roadless rule, which prohibited timber harvesting and road building in a little less than one-third of the national forest system. The Bush administration lifted the roadless rule from the Tongass late last year.

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