A Likely Bidder; University of Alaska's Relationship with ALCAN Forest Products

 Haines and Klukwan residents gather at the ANB Hall in Haines for the University of Alaska’s Open House meeting on November 26th 2018. Residents received very little information about the specifics of the timber sale, and were told not to anticipate answers until after the contract is signed with the purchaser.

Haines and Klukwan residents gather at the ANB Hall in Haines for the University of Alaska’s Open House meeting on November 26th 2018. Residents received very little information about the specifics of the timber sale, and were told not to anticipate answers until after the contract is signed with the purchaser.

The University has identified an “international buyer” as a prospective purchaser. The University’s primary customer is Alcan/Transpac Group, an entity that does not operate or supply a processing facility anywhere in southeast Alaska. Instead, Alcan/Transpac exports unprocessed logs to China and has no record of promoting in-state, value-added processing as required by the Board of Regents “Jobs for Alaskans” policy and the trust responsibility embodied in that policy. According to the Alaska Division of Forestry, raw log exports significantly reduce local employment.

Regionally, there is a very limited existing and emerging local work force interested in dangerous and difficult logging jobs. The limited available data indicate that timber sale purchasers employ reality TV show “Axe Men” from Oregon to clearcut southeast Alaska forests. Indeed, Alcan/Transpac has to import loggers from elsewhere in order to extract timber near Ketchikan – a former timber community.

The University of Alaska’s relationship with ALCAN began in 2003. In a deal that can only be described as shady, the University of Alaska sold ALCAN 145-acres of heavily wooded land near Ketchikan for below market cost.

The UA Lands Office claimed that they sold ALCAN the lands because the timber was not valuable enough to prepare a sale. ALCAN purchased the lands for $175,000 even though the Ketchikan Borough had previously appraised the value of the parcel at $440,000.

The land was adjacent to 60 residential properties; most home-owners didn’t hear about the University sale until the land was already sold. The land was clearcut, and ALCAN received variances from the Ketchikan borough to circumvent stream buffers.  

When the public became aware of this giveaway a citizens group formed to try to reserves the sale. Read some of their story here.

The group, called Locals for Responsible Land Use, made the following claims about the University and its land management office.

The University…

(1)   Failed to sell the land at fair market value

(2)   Failed to accurately assess the value of the land

(3)   Failed to manage its trust lands in a financially responsible manner

(4)   Failed to properly notify the community of the land sale

Here are some of the University’s other recent dealings with ALCAN Forest Products.

In 2016 ALCAN secured a bid on a 500-acre sale south of Ketchikan in Blank Inlet.

According to the UA Lands Office annual report, this sale netted 133,052 for the University.

In 2016 ALCAN secured a bid on the 3,100 acre Edna Bay sale, cutting is ongoing.

According to the 2017 UA Lands Office annual report, this sale netted $1,296,000.

Cumulative Impact of UA Haines Sale on the Klehini

One of the UA's largest parcels is on the Klehini River, adjacent to the Division of Forestry's 855-acre "Baby Brown" sale. The state forest office has confirmed that the Baby Brown sale is going to be made available for the UA purchaser. 

If the DOF and the UA move forward with developing this large area, the cumulative impact could have series consequences for ecological and scenic values of this area. Unfortunately, the state's Forest Resources and Practices Act has no requirement to consider cumulative impact.

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Cumulative impacts have been defined by the Council for Environmental Quality as the “incremental effect of an action when considered within the context of other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable actions that are similar in nature.”

 Site of the Palmer Project. Photo Kathleen Menke.

Site of the Palmer Project. Photo Kathleen Menke.

Multiple clearcuts are especially ill-advised along the Klehini due to the possibility of large-scale mining in the Klehini watershed. If the Palmer Project were permitted, it would present serious risks to the Klehini/Chilkat watershed due to potential for acid mine drainage that would spread toxic contaminants through the groundwater. This threat is another good reason for precautionary measures to protect the resiliency of the Klehini drainage. 


What’s the Relationship between the Haines State Forest and the University of Alaska?

According to the Haines State Forest Management Plan, “University of Alaska lands were originally included in the Haines State Forest timber base through a cooperative management agreement with the University. Since this time, the University…has taken a more active role in the management of their lands…so these lands have been removed from the HSF timber base. “

The current timber base in the Haines State Forest is 41,652 acres; the annual allowable cut, calculated for sustained yield, is 5.88 million board feet. Harvest in the Haines State Forest can vary from year to year, but no more than 58.8 million board feet may be harvested on a ten-year basis.

The University of Alaska, the Division of Forestry, and Mental Health Trust intend to extract 150 million board feet of timber over the next decade, mostly from the 13,426 acres that comprise the UA’s Haines parcels. This is 2.5 times what’s considered sustainable for the Haines State Forest.

Letter to Board of Regents: Haines Timber Sale Capacity and Resources

Lynn Canal Conservation sent a letter to the Board of Regents today to make the following request:

Lynn Canal Conservation requests that the Board of Regents cease the planning process for the Haines timber sale in order to address the capacity issues of its UA Lands Office, and to make use of the many resources within the University for analysis of alternative use of Haines Borough lands.

The capacity of the UA Lands Office has been called into question by their mismanagement of public process for the residents of the Chilkat Valley. Though not necessarily the UA’s intention, many community members have expended significant time and energy attempting to appropriately engage with the University without any satisfying or tangible outcome.

Mismanagement is exemplified by the shifting commitments to a Haines “Action Committee”. The University first offered to create an Action Committee, then sidestepped the responsibility, before finally dismissing any responsibility for the formation of such a group.

Read the letter here.

Action Alert: Testify at Board of Regents Meeting

ACTION ALERT: University of Alaska Timber Sale

MONDAY: Provide testimony to the Board of Regents during a statewide audio teleconference. Testimony is limited to 2 minutes. 

Click here for more information and dial in information. 

TUESDAY: Written comment is due on May 22nd at 5 PM. 

Comments can be emailed to: 

University Land Office: ua-land@alaska.edu

Dianne Milke, Executive Assistant to UA President: dlmilke@alaska.edu

University Board of Regents Chair Gloria O’Neill: goneill@citci.org

(find the contact information for the entire Board of Regents here)

Governor Walker: bill.walker@alaska.gov

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Action Alert: University of Alaska Timber Sale

On March 20th the University of Alaska released an alarmingly vague Public Notice that states the following: 

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The University of Alaska received a notification of interest from a bona fide purchaser and will be entering into a 10 - year negotiated sale to harvest timber on the University’s Haines Parcels. The Haines Parcels total approximately 13, 426 acres and are located within the Haines Borough.

Parties interested in commenting on this development and disposal plan must submit written comments to the University of Alaska through its Facilities and Land Management department by fax at (907) 786 - 7733, by email at ua-land@alaska.edu by no later than 5:00 P.M. on Thursday , April 19 , 2018 to be considered.

There are no details on the buyer or the actual scale of the sale. All that we know is that all of the University's holdings within the Haines Borough are being considered. LCC is actively trying to find more information on the sale and will keep our members updated. 

ACTION ALERT: PUBLIC COMMENT FOR FIVE-YEAR FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN

The Alaska Division of Forestry has released a scoping document that outlines proposed timber harvest and other activities that will occur in the Haines State Forest from 2018 - 2022.

Click here to download the Management Schedule. 

The public can comment on any aspect of this Management Schedule until March 15th, 2018. Comments can be emailed to greg.palmieri@alaska.gov

Click here to download the Public Notice. 

THE HAINES STATE FOREST NEEDS A NEW MANAGEMENT PLAN

The Haines State Forest Management Plan was adopted 16 years ago, in 2002, and is therefore outdated. An up-to-date plan is needed before scheduling is done, or in the interim (since an update has not yet been initiated) the scheduling of timber sales should be highly deferential to other resource values.

The need to modify the Management Plan was foreseen by the Division of Forestry: 

"The plan will be updated periodically as new data become available, as shifts in land and resource management emphasis occur, and as
changing social and economic conditions place different demands on public lands.  The Division of Forestry will coordinate periodic
reviews of this plan."

THE STATE MUST SAFEGUARD CHILKAT KING HABITAT

The need for the Five Year Schedule to defer to other resource uses and values exists for several reasons. The need for deferral is
particularly strong because Alaska Fish & Game and the Board of Fish have designated Chilkat River Chinooks a "stock of management
concern."
 Moreover, the plight of the Chilkat stock is of such high concern that at its January 2018 meeting the Board of Fish was
compelled to place economically harmful restrictions on all salmon fisheries in Southeast that may catch Chilkat Chinooks.

OTHER RESOURCE USES AND VALUES

The schedule should also defer to other resource uses and values, than timber, because social and economic conditions have changed in Haines. It's time to develop a new State Forest Management Plan that places higher value on the needs of tourism, recreation, and small timber operators. Additionally, we have new perceptions and understandings of climate change to consider in resource management. Lynn Canal residents have had many years to observe the Plan in action, and it's time for an update. 


Until the Management Plan is updated a strong precautionary approach is warranted, because logging and its associated road use and road construction have very long-lasting, largely irreversible impacts on other resources and land and water uses.

Baby Brown Timber Sale on hold

In February, LCC appealed the Baby Brown Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) to the Department of Natural Resources. The FLUP only covers the first two of a total ten harvest units in the Baby Brown timber sale. The appeal challenges two aspects of the FLUP. First, the timber sale was put up for bid before the FLUP was completed. Second, the FLUP only covers the first 137 acres of the 855 acre Baby Brown timber sale and therefore the FLUP process is inappropriately occurring in phases instead of completing a FLUP for the entire sale. 

The Department of Natural Resources agrees with LCC’s appeal that the Baby Brown Timber sale was incorrectly put up for bid before a Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) was completed for the entire timber sale. Prior to the timber sale offering, the Division of Forestry had completed a FLUP for only 137 acres of the 855 acre Baby Brown Timber Sale. DNR has cancelled the contract with Astoria Forest Products, an Oregon-based supplier to the export log market, and has directed the Southeast Area Forester to complete a FLUP for the entire 855 acres.

In addition, Commissioner Andrew Mack’s decision states: “This action doesn’t affect the adopted Final Best Interest Finding (FBIF) nor does it apply to future Baby Brown Timber sales pursuant to the FBIF.”

There will be a public comment period when the draft FLUP for the entire sale is available. 

http://khns.org/state-hits-brakes-on-baby-brown-timber-sale-after-successful-appeal