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.