The State Division of Forestry has decided to move forward with the largest potential timber sale in the Haines State Forest in 20 years. The DOF released their final best interest finding for the Baby Brown sale on Thursday. It encompasses 855 acres of forest between Porcupine and Jarvis Creeks about 37 miles northwest of Haines.
The proposed sale area was originally 1,000 acres, but one section, called Glacier Side 2, had already been approved for sale. Juneau-based Channel Construction recently purchased those 145 acres. The remaining 16 million board feet of the Baby Brown sale could be sold in one large sale or in separate pieces.
Haines State Forester Greg Palmieri says there are four potential buyers who have expressed interest in Baby Brown. Two are from Southeast Alaska, but not Haines, and the others are from Washington and Idaho.
DOF released a preliminary best interest finding on Baby Brown in January. They received comments from four organizations and 26 individuals.
The majority of the comments concern the potential visual impact of such large-scale clear-cutting. Some of the Baby Brown sale areas can be seen from the Haines Highway, which is a designated scenic byway.
In response to those comments, the DOF says they will consider scenic values when creating the sale’s forest land use plan. They say they can’t hide the units completely, but through design they hope to reduce the visual impact.
The Baby Brown sale could be slowed down by cuts the state legislature is considering to the state timber program. Those cuts might include closing the forestry office in Haines. If that were to happen, Palmieri says the Baby Brown sale could be handled by foresters in Juneau or Ketchikan.
“If the sales went forward they would be handled in any way that they could be handled,” Palmieri said. “Which would mean that one of those foresters would have to come up and provide the necessary roles for managing those sales. That’s not an ideal situation for the state or the contractor because issues aren’t addressed in a timely manner if that’s the case.”
The next step for DOF is to draw up a forest land use plan that details size, timing, and harvest methods and harvest units. That will involve field work and input from other state agencies and the public.
Read the entire final best interest finding here. For more information on how to submit comments on the sale, call the Haines Forestry Office at 907-766-2120.