As I write this, the wildfires raging across hundreds of thousands of acres throughout Interior Alaska are a poignant reminder that our forests can be one of our greatest assets or one of our greatest liabilities.
Our timber resources can generate substantial economic, environmental and social benefits, or they can threaten Alaskans' lives, livelihood and entire communities and consume millions of dollars in scarce state funds for firefighting as our timber potential goes up in flames.
Responsible use of our forests through carefully regulated timber harvesting and processing won't eliminate the threat of wildfires in Alaska, but it can significantly reduce the risk, while creating jobs, revitalizing our ailing timber industry, enhancing wildlife habitat and spawning new recreation, transportation and trade opportunities.
Proactive state management will help to transform today's forest problem into a meaningful solution. This summer's wildfires are another urgent reminder that nature won't wait while we choose between responsible development or devastation of our renewable forest resources.
Dale R. Lindsey
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