Haines State Forest (Credit: Flickr/~dgies)

Haines State Forest (Credit: Flickr/~dgies)

The largest Haines State Forest timber sale in decades is moving forward. The State Division of Forestry selected a bidder for the 855-acre Baby Brown sale on Thursday. Astoria Forest Products of Oregon bid $274,000 for the 20 million board feet of Sitka spruce and western hemlock. It was the only bid. The minimum price was $250,000.

The timber sale is located about 35 miles up the Haines Highway, between Porcupine and Jarvis Creeks.

Astoria Forest Products is a subsidiary of Murphy Overseas USA Holdings.

The timber company now has 30 days to turn in a contract with its operational plan, including the timeline it follows for the sale. Forestry has set a 5-year maximum timeline.

If the contract is approved, the state will prepare forest land use plans that reflect the details of the contract. The first forest land use plan was drawn up before the bid was selected, to get 137 acres on the east side of Glacier Creek ready for harvest. The land use plans give the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed method of harvest and other details. The first plan is in the public comment period until Jan. 5.

In an earlier interview, Haines Forester Greg Palmieri said that the large-scale sale will not be all clear-cut.

“It’s not going to be 855 acres of clear-cut, which is something I think people were concerned about seeing,” Palmieri said.

When Baby Brown was first proposed in 2015, three conservation groups appealed the sale, citing environmental, wildlife and visual concerns. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner denied the appeal and released a final best interest finding, paving the way for the harvest to go out to bid.

Astoria Forest Products Manager Stan Runnels declined to comment on the sale until the contract is final. But he did say “it could turn into a really good deal for people in Haines.”