Kodiak Island Borough Assembly Continues Discussion on Logging in Burned Area of Chiniak

fire_damage_in_chiniak.pngFire damage in Chiniak. Photo submitted to Kodiak Island Borough by David Nesheim

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is determining whether to log trees on borough property in Chiniak that was burned in the Twin Creeks fire. The assembly had asked several local authorities on logging and timber to attend Thursday’s work session and lend their expertise.

One of these speakers, Jim Carmichael, said he has worked in clear-cut logging and has also advocated for preservation during his career. He said there’s a question that comes before the others.

“And that is for the borough to look from a practical standpoint, how can you politically, and how can you from your borough’s citizens’ perspective, want to manage that land? Are you trying to get more home sites out of there? Are you trying to get what timber value you can? Now, the other, pathological questions, the bugs and disease are components in that.”

But he said those are secondary to the goal of what the borough can and wants to do with the land. Another local professional also spoke up. Paul Hansen works at Island Lake Sawmill and said the ambrosia beetle infects trees in Kodiak.

“I’ve watched my winter harvest logs literally get chewed up to less than profitable value in my yard. You can stand next to a pile of logs and listen to ‘em eat up all your profits. But they don’t spread to live trees. They just chew on fresh harvested trees.”

Hansen said next spring, if there is dead or nearly dead timber standing in Chiniak, the beetles will infest and devalue those trees. But again, he stresses that the infestation won’t spread onto live trees, so logging damaged ones won’t prevent infection.

The assembly expressed interest in getting the area assessed further. It had already asked Division of Forestry Kenai and Kodiak area forester, Hans Rinke, for feedback unofficially.

“I hear us taking us a step further though,” said Assemblyman Dan Rohrher. “Yes, we’ll get a letter from Hans, but let’s specifically ask him are there state resources available? Not by way of money, but by way of professional expertise to help us with this decision.”

“One would do a formal request to DNR or the state to ask for that. It can’t hurt,” said Mayor Jerrol Friend.

Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner was also participating over speakerphone.  

“I see they have a forest stewardship program on the division of forestry website,” she said. “So, I do think we should direct staff to call Hans and specifically ask him to come down and do this or what other resources are available because it looks like there are resources available.”

“We’ve had that conversation,” said Borough Resource Management Officer, Duane Dvorak. “The forest stewardship program only applies to private land. It does not apply to public lands.”

“Okay, that’s fine,” Skinner said. “But if you could specifically ask Hans if the state can come in and do what has just been discussed around the table, because it sounds like you haven’t actually done that yet.”

The borough is still working on the issue and it is not in the packet for the assembly’s next regular meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, November 5.

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