PIPING POINTERS – Bagpiper Adam Smith, with the Seattle Fire Fighters Pipes and Drums, gets an assist from Baranof Elementary School first-grader Eleanor Ebanks this afternoon at the covered area on the school playground. The Seattle band has become an integral part of the Alaska Day festival, performing at schools and in the parade during the day and at downtown venues at night. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

F.S. Proposes Logging Old-Growth in Tongass

JUNEAU (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has proposed cutting down a huge swath of old growth timber in southeast Alaska.
    The agency published its draft decision Friday on logging as much as 225 million board feet (53,000 cubic meters) in Tongass National Forest on Prince of Wales Island, opening up a 45-day period for people to raise objections, KTOO Public Media in Juneau reported Thursday.
    While the project seems large, the harvests will be gradual, said Delilah Brigham, a Forest Service project manager.
    “We’re looking at metering out timber harvest over 15 years,” Brigham said. “So yes, the project does offer a larger amount of old growth, but it’s not going to be harvested all right now within one year.”
    The Forest Service said the project aims to improve forest ecosystem health as well as boost the local economy.
    “We had a variety of comments from different sized mills across the project area saying that their businesses rely on a steady supply of timber,” Brigham said.
    Critics say the plan is a reversal of the agency’s 2016 decision to phase out old growth logging and that commercial logging can damage fish and wildlife habitat.
    “There’s no evidence that anything would be milled locally,” said Pat Lavin of the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife. “At least that hasn’t been the trend and isn’t what one would expect out of this sale either. Most of the product is exported, unfortunately, and that would probably continue.”

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