Tanana Forest plan includes significant increases in timber harvest

Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The draft management plan for the Tanana Valley State Forest includes large increases in the allowable timber harvest, but state officials don't expect a surge in logging.

The plan, which is expected to become final around the beginning of the year, is the first complete rewrite since the original plan came out in 1988. Six weeks are being allowed for public review.

The plan was devised over the past six years with the input from more than 70 public meetings.

''We promised the citizen's advisory committee we would give the public extra time,'' said assistant regional forester Paul Maki.

The amount of timber harvest allowed in the old plan was based on market factors, said Department of Natural Resources Management Forester Steve Clautice.

''It ignored species, for the most part, that didn't have a market, like aspen and birch,'' he said.

The new plan instead looks at how much timber harvest would be sustainable for forest health. So an inventory of hardwoods like aspen and birch is included for potential harvest, in addition to the white spruce that composes most of the current timber plan.

The new plan also factors in possible timber harvests in some other state lands near the Tanana Valley State Forest.

The allowable cut per decade in the draft plan released Friday is 375 million cubic feet. The maximum amount of harvest allowed in the current plan depends upon conditions, but is generally only about half that figure.

The average actual timber harvest on the forest is only about 3.5 million cubic feet per year, or 35 million cubic feet in a decade.

DNR does not anticipate timber harvests rising much above their current levels.

''Right now markets are pretty much small local sawmills,'' Clautice said. ''I see nothing right now that leads me to believe there will be any dramatic increase.''

The Tanana Valley State Forest encompasses 1.8 million acres of land, stretching from Manley Hot Springs to Tok.

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