Governor Walker Signs Bill to Support Alaska Timber Industry - P.O.W. Report

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Governor Walker Signs Bill to Support Alaska Timber Industry

Contact: Corey Allen-Young, Interim Press Secretary – (907) 227-2435

SB 32 expedites state response to growing biomass energy need

July 19, 2016 KLAWOCK—Governor Bill Walker signed into law today a bill designed to meet the growing demand for timber in southeast Alaska—after the lack of federal timber threatened the industry’s survival in the state. Senate Bill 32, which also expands the Department of Natural Resources’ authority to respond to communities hardest hit by fuel prices, passed the 29th Alaska Legislature with near-unanimous support. Governor Walker signed the bill at Viking Lumber, one of the largest year-round employers on Prince of Wales Island and one of the state’s largest working mills. Viking Lumber employees, many of whom worked there for more than 10 years, were also present for the bill-signing.

“As Alaska faces the greatest fiscal crisis in our state’s history, it’s important that we continue searching for areas where we can innovate to protect local industry,” said Governor Walker. “This bill will help promote the timber industry in Southeast Alaska and provide lower-cost biomass energy for rural Alaskans. I thank the owners of Viking Lumber, Kurt and Bryce Dahlstrom, for hosting this bill-signing ceremony.”

The bill grants DNR the flexibility needed to offer more large timber sales during a difficult time when federal timber sales are not meeting the needs of the southeast economy. The legislation ensures that sales are developed with adequate notice to the industry and general public, and still maintains the public process for determining if a timber sale is in the best interest of the state.

The state was previously unable to offer negotiated timber sales larger than 500,000 board feet unless the sale area met all three criteria of having high unemployment, underutilized manufacturing capability, and an underutilized timber supply that would lose value due to insects, disease, fire, or conversion to non-forest uses. This prohibited many large timber sales in areas with high demand for timber products and biomass energy.

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