Chair Bryce Dahlstrom

Next scheduled meeting

  • November 30, 2021 – 2pm

Previous 2020 Committee Meetings

Previous Meeting Materials

Goal Statement:

Increase the timber industry workforce, increase economic timber supply levels and infrastructure.

SWOT Analysis

Timber CEDS SWOT and Initiatives

Strengths Weaknesses
  • We have abundant, high-quality wood resources in our region
  • We are continuing to develop markets for our wood. For example, Red Cedar is preferred but was previously an undesired species. Now there is a strong demand for it.
  • Sitka spruce has a strong established market
  • Our industry provides year-round family jobs and wages
  • Timber is a renewable resource
  • International markets: We are in high demand in Asian markets (as well as domestic)
  • Our industry contributes to rural communities and rural economies
  • We have cross-industry infrastructure in place
  • Activity in our industry takes place outside urban centers
  • There is good marine access to our timber resources
  • Carbon Sequestration in wood
  • There is much government ownership of the regional land-base (95%)
  • There are too many federal government regulations imposed upon our wood products industry
  • Transportation costs of the wood is high
  • The Tongass has become the poster child in the US for outside to use as a fundraising mechanism
  • Our trained, high-quality workforce is aging/in-decline while the new workforce does not appear to have the same work ethic or interest in physical work
  • We are losing our infrastructure
  • Power costs are high
  • The remote locations of our industry mean that the overall costs of doing business are high
  • Logging has become a socially unacceptable business to be in.
Opportunities Threats
  • Showcase use of local woods
  • Create a small cottage industry
  • There is a great deal of opportunity for growth in the regional timber industry
  • Increasing private and/or state land ownership would create many new opportunities
  • Develop more niche markets
  • The regional wood products industry is one of our few with primary production, meaning that the economic impact is much larger. By growing this industry we could replace budget gaps with timber jobs
  • Biomass/carbon
  • Use growth of the timber industry to stabilize decline of rural communities
  • Open more mills
  • Conservation groups
  • Environmental litigation on every timber sale
  • Politics
  • Disease/aging trees
  • Endangered Species Act
  • Insects, invasive plants
  • High capital costs
  • Insufficient workforce
  • USFS bureaucracy

Timber Priority Objective:

Priority Objective #1: Provide an adequate, economic and dependable supply of timber from the Tongass National Forest to regional timber operators.

To be economically successful local mills must be provided an opportunity to accumulate a supply of purchased but unharvested economic timber (i.e. volume under contract) equal to approximately three years of timber consumption. This allows the industry ample time to plan an orderly and systematic harvest schedule that meets all timing restrictions and permit requirements. Second, it allows the industry to better manage its financial resources and to secure financing on the basis of longer term timber supply (banks don’t want to provide loans without multi-year plans in place). Third, it allows time for the necessary infrastructure to be maintained. Finally, an ample timber supply gives the industry more opportunity to sustain itself through market cycles. Support management, research, and legal efforts to assure access to adequate, consistent, and economic timber supply on federal and state forest lands.

Other timber industry objectives:

Objective #2 Stabilize the regional timber industry.

Increase and stabilize volume of timber sold and harvested to increase timber related employment in the region. Timber jobs in Southeast Alaska have been in decline since passage of the Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990. There were approximately 4,200 timber jobs then, and there are 325 now. Increase volume of mmbf sold and harvested, and current number of jobs.

Objective #3 Work with USFS to direct federal contracts toward locally-owned businesses.

USFS spends millions each year on activities such as forest restoration contracts. However, the economic benefits of this spending is by and large awarded to outside firms from Oregon and Washington. There are several changes that can be made to help direct these contracts to local firms. USFS needs to break larger jobs into several smaller ones and work on bonding requirements, as small operators are not able to meet the federal minimum financial requirements.

Objective # 4 Support small scale manufacturing of wood products in Southeast Alaska. 

There are many smaller manufacturing efforts in the regional forest. Continue to enable small business to produce wood products using Tongass wood by providing small sales, extending harvest schedules, allowing harvest of dead/down trees on road corridors, reducing bonding requirements, etc.

Objective #5 Continue old growth harvests until young growth supply is adequate. 

Significant timber harvest did not occur on the Tongass until the 1960s. Since much of that harvest was along beach fringe and streams (and will not be available for young growth harvests), it will be at least another 30 to 50 years before later cuts have matured to the point where the Tongass can reasonably transition to a young growth timber industry. In the interim, allow economic old growth timber to be harvested in a volume sufficient to meet market demand for an integrated timber industry.

Objective #6 Community-Based Workforce Development.

Support workforce development in the local population for timber industry centered occupations. As the industry has contracted, it has become more difficult to attract outside skilled labor to work in the regional timber industry. However, this barrier provides an opportunity to recruit and train local candidates for these positions.

Objective # 7 Update young growth inventory.

Advocate for a thorough analysis of harvestable, economic young growth inventory at the stand level to more accurately predict the young growth supply of economic timber. Until those involved with the regional timber industry have a firm handle on the usable economic inventory, and the age of the inventory and how far along it is to the culmination of harvest, it is hard to predict an economic supply. The 2010 Economic Analysis of Southeast Alaska demonstrates that young growth timber that meets the necessary requirements and is capable of economic harvest is limited to 30-50 mmbf per year.