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.