What's New

State of Alaska, USDA Forest Service begin official work on Alaska Roadless Rule

JUNEAU, ALASKA, August 2 – The State of Alaska and the USDA Forest Service signed a memorandum of understanding this week to develop an Alaska state-specific roadless rule.

An Alaska state-specific roadless rule will determine which currently designated roadless areas would require a different management designation to further Alaska’s economic development or other needs, while still conserving roadless areas for generations to come.

The state-specific rule will amend the 2001 Roadless Rule, which prohibits road construction, road reconstruction, and timber harvesting on certain National Forest System lands across the country. Currently, in Alaska, 67 percent of National Forest System lands are inventoried roadless areas. An additional 26 percent are designated Wilderness, where road construction is also prohibited.

In establishing this new rule, the USDA Forest Service is responding to Alaska’s petition for a full exemption from the 2001 Roadless Rule. The petition was accepted by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in April 2018, with the decision to pursue a state-specific roadless rule. National Forest System lands in Alaska that are designated Wilderness would be unaffected by this rulemaking.

"We will continue to work with the people of Alaska, the state government, industry, tribes and Alaska native corporations to maintain the health and vibrancy of our National Forests," said Secretary Perdue. "The national forests in Alaska should be working forests for all industries."

The Forest Service and state will work closely together, as the Forest Service did with Colorado and Idaho to develop their state-specific roadless rules. An important part of this process will be working with stakeholders from across the region to inform development of this state-specific rule.

"The State of Alaska is ready to begin this work. I am confident that state and federal officials will be responsive to input from local residents every step of the way and that together we will account for the diverse needs of people who live, work, and recreate in the forest," Governor Bill Walker said of the project.

Secretary Perdue aims to sign a final Alaska Roadless Rule within the next 18 months. The preparation process will involve National Environmental Policy Act environmental review and disclosures, gathering public feedback, conducting public outreach, and consultation with Alaskan Tribes and Native Corporations.

A notice of intent to prepare an EIS for the rulemaking is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register later this summer.

For more information or to provide feedback related to this announcement, send an email to akroadlessrule@fs.fed.us.

 

Spruce Beetle Website Launched

The Spruce Beetle Working Group has recently launched a website with information on spruce beetle in Alaska’s trees and forests. It is designed to be used by anyone who is interested in spruce beetles, has questions about spruce beetles, or has spruce beetle issues in their trees.

This website is a collaborative effort among the US Forest Service, the Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry, and the UAF-Cooperative Extension Service.

 

Board of Forestry to meet August 8 and 10

(Anchorage, AK) - The public is invited to participate in a Board of Forestry meeting and teleconference on Wednesday, August 8 from 8 a.m. to noon and on Friday, August 10 from 8 a.m. to 10:25 a.m. to discuss statewide forestry issues.

Topics for the board meeting include:

  • Fiscal year 2018-19 forestry and forest practices budgets,
  • Coordination of forestry and wildlife habitat management in the Tanana Valley;
  • Air quality and wood energy in the Fairbanks North Star Borough;
  • Forest management issues and opportunities on state land in Interior Alaska
  • Opportunities for forest management on military land under the Sikes Act;
  • Fish habitat permitting legislation (HB 199) and fish habitat ballot initiative (17FSH2);
  • State regulatory proposals related to forest operations in Alaska, including small negotiated timber sales under 11 AAC 71.045(e), state fees, and public notices; and antidegradation regulations and potential processes for identifying Tier 3 waters; and
  • Coastal forest management issues including reports on Tongass Roadless Rule litigation, the Mental Health Trust land exchange, timber sales under the state-federal Good Neighbor Agreement, and proposed University of Alaska timber management in the Haines area.

Other forestry matters may be included on the agenda. The meeting is intended to comply with the requirements of AS 41.17.047(b) and (d). Public comment is scheduled for 11 a.m. on August 8, and for 9 a.m. on August 10.

The August 8 session will be held in the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) large conference room, 3700 Airport Way, Fairbanks; the August 10 session will be in the DNR Division of Forestry Tok Area Office, Mile 123 Tok Cutoff, Tok. Both sessions will be available by teleconference and webinar at the following sites:

  • Juneau: DNR 4th floor conference room A, 400 Willoughby Ave.
  • Anchorage: Suite 1450, 550 W. 7th Avenue
  • Fairbanks: Department of Natural Resources large conference room, 3700 Airport Way

Anyone outside of Anchorage, Fairbanks, or Juneau who would like to participate in the teleconference should contact Alison Arians at the Division of Forestry in Anchorage at alison.arians@alaska.gov or call 907-269-8467 no later than noon on Monday, August 6. If no one has contacted Alison and no one is present at a teleconference site by 9 a.m., the teleconference may be terminated at that site.

A copy of the agenda is posted below. For additional information about the meeting, or for special accommodations due to audio or visual impairment, contact Alison using the contact information above. Any individuals wishing to receive announcements of future Board of Forestry meetings by e-mail or in hard copy should contact Alison to be added to the mailing list.

CONTACT: Alison Arians, 907-269-8467, alison.arians@alaska.gov

 

Alaska Community Forest Council seeks new members

The Alaska Community Forest Council is seeking to fill five council seats this year in the following categories: Landscape Architect; Construction/Right of Way; Community Forestry or Beautification; Cooperative Extension Service; and Member at Large.

The council is a nonprofit organization and advisory body to the Division of Forestry that works to improve Alaskans’ quality of life by expanding and caring for urban and community forests. The council promotes the management of trees and forests within communities to maximize the many economic, environmental and social benefits that trees provide.

Applications and information about the council and the Division of Forestry’s Community Forestry Program are available on the web at: http://forestry.alaska.gov/community/council or by contacting the Community Forestry Program office at 269-8466 or stephen.nickel@alaska.gov. Completed applications are due no later than Wednesday, May 2, 2018. New appointees will be notified in late May and the terms begin on July 1, 2018 and end June 30, 2021.

Council members are asked to attend all-day meetings four times each year. Members serve on working committees, handle the normal business responsibilities of a nonprofit, and support the care of trees and forests in the towns where they live. Members attend orientation before the first meeting and are provided educational opportunities and hands-on training. Council members are reimbursed for travel expenses if applicable.

CONTACT: Stephen Nickel, 269-8466, stephen.nickel@alaska.gov

 

Burn permits required starting April 1

The Alaska Division of Forestry reminds residents that general burn permits for open debris burning and the use of burn barrels are required starting April 1 in areas under state wildland fire protection.

Burn permits are required annually and residents must obtain a new permit at the start of each season. Burn permits are free and available at State forestry offices, most local fire departments or can be downloaded and printed at https://dnr.alaska.gov/burn.

Debris burning and the use of burn barrels are the leading cause of wildland fires in Alaska. Burn permits contain instructions for safe and legal burning.

Residents are required to read and sign the permit before burning. They must also call the forestry office listed on the permit or check online each day before burning to ensure that burning is allowed. Permittees must have the burn permit in their possession when burning. Burn permits are NOT required for camping or warming fires under 3 feet in diameter.

Burn barrels and debris burning are not permitted within some municipalities. Residents should check with their local forestry office or fire authorities to determine if burning is allowed in their area.

Burn piles larger than 10 feet in diameter and 4 feet high require a large-scale burn permit, which requires a site inspection by a State Forestry Prevention Officer and a burn plan prior to a permit being issued.

Anyone who fails to obtain or adhere to the conditions of a burn permit can be held criminally liable for damage caused by an escaped fire.

CONTACT: Tim Mowry, 907-356-5512, tim.mowry@alaska.gov

 

Notice of Proposed Regulation Changes on Negotiated Timber Sales

The Department of Natural Resources proposes to revise two regulations for state timber sales to provide additional time for operators to complete small negotiated sales and to conform with recent statutory changes in requirements for negotiated sales to local manufacturers.

The Department of Natural Resources proposes to adopt regulation changes in 11 AAC 71. Timber and Material Sales of the Alaska Administrative Code, dealing with negotiated timber sales, including the following:

  • (1) 11 AAC 71.045(e) is proposed to be changed to increase the maximum period of time for a small negotiated timber sale under AS 38.05.115 from one year to two years.
  • (2) 11 AAC 71.055(a) is proposed to be changed to clarify that a public interest finding is required for an AS 38.05.118 negotiated sale, and that a sale to a local manufacturer includes both wood products manufacturers and users of wood fiber.
  • (3) 11 AAC 71.055(a)(1), (a)(2), and (a)(3) are proposed to be repealed to align this regulation with recent changes to AS 38.05.118, the statutory authority for negotiated timber sales to local manufacturers. This change provides the Department of Natural Resources with more flexibility to use negotiated sales to meet local timber industry needs statewide.

You may comment on these proposed regulation changes, including the potential costs to private persons complying with the proposed changes, by submitting written comments to the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, at 3700 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99709. Additionally, the Division of Forestry will accept comments by facsimile at (907) 451 2690 and by email at james.schwarber@alaska.gov. The comments must be received by the department no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2018.

A copy of the proposed regulation changes is available on the Alaska Online Public Notice System at http://notice.alaska.gov/189007 and by contacting James Schwarber at james.schwarber@alaska.gov or by phone (907)451-2704.

The Department of Natural Resources received the following written question regarding the proposed regulation changes in 11 AAC 71 dealing with negotiated timber sales.

Question: In 11 AAC 71.055(a) what part of the existing timber industry in Alaska qualifies as "users of wood fiber"?

Answer: AS 38.05.118 was amended in 2016 to clarify that a negotiated sale of timber may be to a manufacturer of wood products or a user of wood fiber. The intent is for these provisions to apply to both local manufacturers of wood products and users of wood fiber; as such all elements of Alaska’s existing timber industry qualify. The sectional analysis for Senate Bill 32 (later codified at ch. 42, SLA 2016) "clarifies that DNR may negotiate sales to wood fiber users, including biomass energy producers, in addition to wood product manufacturers." Other examples of users of wood fibers may include, but are not limited to, suppliers of pellets, chips, or firewood, and paper mills.

 

Forestry Social Media Sites

DOF now has Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube pages:

Individual links to Youtube content: