The State Department of Natural Resources has announced the dates for the short-term closure of the Haines State Forestry office.
The office will close to the public from November 21 to January 10. Then, it will open for two weeks from January 11 to January 22. A press release from DNR says the two-week reopening will allow staff to deal with ‘any issues that require a local presence.’ The office will then be closed again until March 1.
Funding for the Haines forestry office was slashed by the State Legislature earlier this year, causing one of Haines’ two long-time foresters to lose his job. The Division of Forestry shifted some funding to keep forester Greg Palmieri in his job and keep the local office open. But forestry officials warned that the funding was not year-round. In an interview in September, Palmieri said the three-month closure could have a direct impact on local timber operators.
“Because the small operators manage on a tight budget, they don’t have a lot of capital to up-front purchase,” said Palmieri.
Scott Rossman of The Stump Company is one of those small operators. He said in an October interview that he’s tried to stock up on timber before the forestry office closes. What he is worried about is the office being completely shut down after the next round of state budget cuts.
“I can see somebody going, well there’s not anybody in Haines right now, what do we need to put anybody back there for? Don’t rehire them,” Rossman said.
The permanent closure of the Haines forestry office is a possibility. Forestry Director Chris Maisch says he has been told to expect more budget cuts.
The DNR press release says during the Haines office closure, anyone with questions about forestry issues in Haines should contact Joel Nudelman in Juneau at 465-5406.