KIB Assembly Decides on Potential Forest Consultant for Damage Assessment in Chiniak

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is in the process of determining how to approach the roughly 800 acres affected by the Twin Creeks Fire. At its work session last night it reviewed timber assessment proposals from three different forest consultants.

Borough Manager Bud Cassidy introduced the topic.  

“When we last talked about this, the assembly wasn’t willing to just leap into a timber cruise and maybe an appraisal, so what you did discuss is maybe doing what we call appraisal light. That we get really an assessment of damage done out in Chiniak if the trees are all dead or there’s certain ones alive. Those kind of things.”

According to a document in the agenda packet which detailed the scope of work for the assessment, it would include the percentage of spruce trees that suffered crown, base, and root damage and the percentage and location of areas within the property that escaped fire damage.

The borough’s resource management officer, Duane Dvorak, has been in charge of speaking with the consultants and said the desired service would be a damage assessment, not a determination of the volume and value of the timber on borough property.

“Basically, they would be looking at the condition of the trees, the damage of the trees. They go through on a systematic basis. They make observations of the trees that they see at various points as they go through the site.”

He said the priciest of the three possible consultants most closely approaches a tree census.
“They’re looking for signs of life, they’re looking for areas that maybe may be preserved, and they were gonna map those areas and call those out [in] a very detailed fashion. The other two proposals are more consistent with what I thought this assembly was asking for, which is kind of a quick survey through there looking in very general terms about the conditions.”

Dvorak said, according to borough code, there are only certain situations that allow the borough the power to harvest or sell timber.

“And that is fire, windthrow, insects, or clearing of right of ways. It’s spelled out in 1870. There’s only just a very few narrow categories that we can even contemplate a timber sale, but when we do, we have to having a cruising and appraisal. It’s a requirement of the code.”

Assemblyman Mel Stephens spoke about the three consultant options and said he liked that NorthWind Forest Consultants was experienced in forest health assessments.

“And frankly, a forest health assessment to me is different from a fire damage assessment. I mean, I’m interested in not simply where the damage is and what the extent of it is, but given the extent of the damage that we have, what is the likelihood of the forest coming back if we do not log it?”

Assemblyman Dan Rohrer spoke in favor of NorthWind and its proposal.

“Honestly, that’s what I was looking for. I was looking for somebody who said, hey, you know what, I’ll come up here, I’m not just gonna rely on satellite imagery. I’m gonna walk through it. He specifically references actual percentages of spruce trees with root and crown damage and trees that may have escaped damage from the initial fire, so there is at least some quantitative component to it. It’s in a price range that I am fairly comfortable with.”

He also pointed out the company met with the assembly twice to answer its questions.

The assembly agreed Dvorak should speak further with NorthWind and that the borough assembly and staff would go from there.

The assembly will hold a special work session Tuesday to discuss the preliminary fiscal year 2017 budget and it will hold its next regular meeting Thursday.

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