Ownership of commercial timberlands is, perhaps, more concentrated in Alaska than the rest of the United States. The federal government owns approximately 65% of all the lands in Alaska. The State of Alaska owns another 24.5%. Regional and village Native corporations collectively own approximately 10% of Alaska, and the remaining <1% is controlled by various private interests.* Given the above percentages, it is no surprise that Private Non-Industrial Timberland owners play little role in supplying the Alaska industry.
The following paragraphs briefly describe the five major sources of commercial timber in Alaska. Two of these sources are conventional public land management agencies, the USDA. Forest Service and the State of Alaska's Division of Forestry. The Alaska Mental Health Trust and the University of Alaska are two public entities that function largely as private land owners because of their legal mandates. Finally, there is a short description of the largely Native private land owners. This section is intended to provide a rough estimate of volumes available in recent years, a description of size and types of sales from these sources, and contact information for each entity.
*USDI Bureau of Land Management, October 1998.
Current forest inventory data indicates the State has 24.9 million acres of forest lands. Of this total, 4.3 million acres are considered commercial forest capable of growing 20 cubic feet per acre per year. These figures include both state public domain land, which is available for multiple use including forest management, as well as designated state forest lands. The two designated State Forests contain just over 2 million acres of the state's forested lands. The 247,000 acre Haines State Forest, established by the legislature in 1982, covers the Chilkoot, Chilkat, and Ferebee drainages in the northern portion of Southeast Alaska. The 1.8 million acre Tanana Valley State Forest that stretches from Manley to Tok in Interior Alaska was created one year later.
Harvests on state lands have averaged approximately 30 million board feet annually during the past few years. This figure is governed by constitutional sustained yield considerations, the state public land planning process, as well as budgetary concerns. Some relatively large salvage sales in the past few years have temporarily elevated annual sale totals. Sales are offered to prospective buyers by competitive bid, negotiated contract and personal use contract. With its extensive use of negotiated sales, the sale program emphasizes sales for local, value-added wood processing and most timber from state land is processed in state. Before sales of timber can take place, forest lands designated for timber management must be determined by a Land Use Plan. These designated forest lands are then subject to Forest Land Use Plan and a Five Year Timber Harvest Schedule. All plans and schedules are open to public review and comment before the timber resource can be put on the market.
The Division of Forestry offers timber sales under five different timber sale statutes:
Source: Division of Forestry and Division of Community Advocacy
For more information on timber sale schedules and plans around the state, contact the appropriate Division of Forestry Area Office.
Alaska Region 10 of the USDA Forest Service contains the two largest National Forests in the U.S. They are the:
Chugach National Forest: Description of forest is currently under construction. Please check back.
Tongass National Forest: The following is the expected timber supply forecast for the Tongass National Forest (TNF). The current Tongass Land Management Plan has a decadal ceiling of 1.8 billion board feet. The Tongass plan shows that the TNF has about 9.9 million acres of forest land, of which about 5.6 million is considered productive forest land. Approximately 600,000 acres are scheduled for timber harvest.
The decadal ceiling, or allowable sale quantity (ASQ) is a ceiling; it is not a future sale level projection or target and does not reflect all of the factors that may influence future sale levels. For example, the average congressionally-funded sale level between 1980 and 1995 was 83 percent of the average annual ASQ. For the past five years, the funded sale level has averaged 70 percent of the average annual ASQ.
Almost all harvest volume over the next five to six decades will come from existing old-growth stands. If the harvest level is near the ASQ, about six thousand acres per year would be harvested. At the end of this period, second-growth stands will start becoming available for harvest and harvest volume will come from both young- and old-growth stands. Because second growth stands are projected to have much higher volumes per acre, up to twice the volume of some of the existing old-growth stands, fewer acres would need to be harvested to meet the ASQ. In the ensuing 12 to 14 decades, between four and six thousand acres per year would be harvested.
In about 17 to 20 decades, harvest volume will come almost exclusively from young-growth stands. When this happens, annual harvest acres are projected to be about three to four thousand. Two-hundred years from now, at least 90 percent of the current old-growth would still remain on the forest.
For information on TNF timber sales, please contact the appropriate Tongass Ranger District Office.
Source: USDA Forest Service Region 10 and Division of Community Advocacy
The Alaska Mental Health land trust was established by the federal government in 1956. The trust granted the State of Alaska the right to select one million acres of federal land to provide a reliable source of funding for mental health services in Alaska. In the mid-1980's, a citizen lawsuit was filed, claiming mismanagement of these lands. In 1994, the Alaska Superior Court and Alaska legislature took actions that settled the litigation. The settlement created the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority whose responsibility is to ensure the creation of a comprehensive, integrated mental health program for Alaska.
Alaska Mental Health Trust beneficiaries include Alaskans who experience mental illness, mental retardation or similar disabilities, chronic alcoholism with psychosis, and Alzheimer's disease or related dementia.
Trust Land Office
The 1994 settlement reconstituted and transferred the million acres land trust to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. It also required the creation of a separate unit to manage Trust land within the Department of Natural Resources--the Trust Land Office
Trust Land Office Mission
The mission of the Trust Land Office is twofold: (1) to protect and enhance the value of Alaska Mental Health Trust lands; and (2) to maximize revenues from the Trust lands over time. Revenues generated from Trust lands are used by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to improve the lives and circumstances of Alaska Mental Health Trust Beneficiaries.
Trust Land Office Principles
In accordance with the 1994 legislation, the Trust Land Office is required to manage Trust lands consistent with the intent of the 1956 Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act. The general objectives for Trust land management are set out in AS 38.05.801 and more specifically set out in regulation (11 AAC 99). By regulation, Trust lands are to be managed solely in the best interest of the Alaska mental health trust and its beneficiaries in compliance with the following key principles and objectives:
Alaska Mental Health Trust Commercial Forestland Assets
The forestland portion of the Trust's asset portfolio includes approximately 130,000 acres of commercial forestland with a total estimated timber volume of 440 million board feet (MMBF). Maps depicting known forest land resources available for review at the Trust Land Office. Given its unique mission and associated regulations, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office is comparable to a private forestland manager.
The summaries provided below are for general reference purposes only. Except for active timber sale areas, no decisions have been made to harvest the summarized timber inventories.
Southeast Alaska: Approximately 265 million board feet of the Trust's commercial forestland lies in southeast Alaska. A large portion of this forestland is community and environmentally sensitive. The Trust will be looking at these sensitivities in more detail in the future. The Trust Land Office is currently overseeing one large timber sale contract near Icy Cape. To better understand the forestland assets owned by the Trust, forest resource inventory work is currently underway in the vicinity of Wrangell and Thorne Bay.
Net Operable Acres
Net volume per acre per MBF
Total volume MBF
Revilla Island North
Revilla Island Central
Revilla Island South
Haines Block 1
Haines Block 2
Haines Block 3
Southcentral Alaska: Much of the forest land owned by the Trust in Southcentral Alaska has been impacted heavily by the spruce bark beetle. The Trust is overseeing one small timber sale near Moose Pass. The Trust has recently received additional information about its forestland resources near Seldovia and Tyonek and there appears to be some industry interest in the area.
Northern Alaska: The Trust has obtained only initial vegetation cover mapping for its lands lying north of the Alaska range. Volume estimates and timber cruises have not been performed to date. While large scaled commercial activity may be limited, it is likely that the small pockets of valuable forest resources may play a role in niche markets as they develop.
Process for Forest Land Opportunities
Timber offerings on Trust Land generally result from Trust Land Office planning efforts, but sometimes result from market place inquiries. In general, timber sales are offered competitively unless it is determined that it is in the Trust's best interest to proceed with a negotiated sale. Large-scale timber harvest offerings are planned at least 18 months in advance of the offering. Small-scale timber projects take between 6 and 12 months to plan and make available to the market place and are prioritized based upon the financial return to the Trust and the availability of staff to perform the task. Some small-scale timber sales are Trust Land Office generated and occur in conjunction with other Trust asset development projects, such as commercial timber being offered from material sale sites and rights-of-ways. The Trust also receives revenue from the lease of Trust real estate assets to timber-related businesses. Trust lands are being used in Southeast Alaska as timber mill sites, and logging equipment and log storage areas.
Further information on the availability of forest land assets from Trust land can be obtained by contacting the Forest Senior Resource Manager, Trust Land Office, 550 West 7th Ave., Suite 1430, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, phone (907) 269-8658.
Source: Mental Health Trust Land Office
University land and timber resources are part of a trust created by federal legislation passed in 1915 and 1929. The University's Board of Regents has a fiduciary responsibility to manage the trust in the best interests of the University and must deposit net proceeds from timber sales into the Land - Grant Endowment Trust Fund. The University uses the investment earnings of this fund to manage the University's land and resources and to provide funding for academic programs, research and public services. Because it is required to receive fair market value for its resources and seeks to optimize revenue, the University has not regularly conducted timber sales of a size that would typically appeal to Alaska mills and other wood processors. Instead, the University has focused on larger volume sales primarily intended for export.
The majority of University timberlands are in the Gulf Coast region, and most of the harvest to date has focused on the Cape Yagataga area. Annual harvests have averaged from 10 to 25 MMBF in recent years.
For more information about the timber supply available from the University of Alaska contact the Director, University of Alaska, Statewide Office of Land Management, 3890 University Lake Drive, Suite 103, Anchorage, AK 99508. (907) 786-7766. Fax: (907) 786-7733.
Source: Division of Trade and Development
Currently under construction.
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