Borough Begins Timber Harvest with Eye to Reforestation

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kodiak Island Borough staff has an eye toward reforestation in the Chiniak area damaged by the Twin Creeks fire, but first, they need to harvest the trees and see how much they can salvage and sell abroad.

Resource Management Officer Duane Dvorak says, right now, A-1 Timber is in the preliminary stages of harvest.

“They are doing some harvesting on the east side utilizing mostly Lesnoi roads that have just been extended into the borough property, but those trees are being what they call decked, which means they’re just being stacked up and set aside for the moment.”

He says they haven’t determined how much of the fire-damaged wood qualifies for sale at this point, but A-1 offered $120 per thousand board-foot. There are other factors that impact how profitable timber harvest will be for the borough.

Dvorak says the wood is still at the market-rate for live timber that qualifies for the Asian market, but that could change.

“The concern is these trees being dead still have enough nutrients to support insect populations. If they become infested with insects, then they no longer would qualify for that Asian market, which is the best money on the market right now.”

As Dvorak explains, the burned area is by no means a dead zone.

“A lot of the ground vegetation – the root systems were still intact, and so a lot of that vegetation is bouncing back quite quickly. In addition, the burning of the soil and the moss layer and everything has mineralized the soil, so it’s made a lot more nutrients available.”

Dvorak says the borough has about a two-year window of opportunity for reforestation during which the new trees have the highest chance of survival.

Furthermore, he says they need a one-year lead time to order trees and, with that in mind, he says staff plans to write up a proposal and present it to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly by July 21.

He says staff will bring up reforestation at the upcoming assembly work session, which will be Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the borough conference room.

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