After roughly six years of logging in Chiniak, Native Corporation Leisnoi wrapped up its tree harvest in July. The work, which Leisnoi contracted A-1 to carry out, has been controversial among Kodiak residents, with many lamenting the negative effect on the land’s beauty.
Logging is evident driving out to the area, and there are patches along the road where trees once stood. According to Leisnoi President and CEO Jana Turvey, the corporation is trying to fill those gaps.
She says Liesnoi wants people to know that the corporation is pro-active in addressing reforestation and it takes that responsibility seriously.
Turvey explains Leisnoi is replanting not only from the recent logging, but also from logging done in the 90s. She says the corporation surveyed those areas a few years ago and decided to pursue another round of reforestation because regeneration was not up to its standards. The Twin Creeks fire in Chiniak last year contributed to the need for replanting.
Turvey says the damage set back its reforestation efforts.
“We had planted last year in areas that actually also fell victim to the fire, and so this year we’ve gone back, and now we’re taking a look at where do we need to supplant those replanted efforts and focus our energies going forward over the course of the next probably three or four years in a one-two approach in really getting seedlings in the ground and getting this forest actively going again.”
The resources from the last few years of tree harvest have bolstered Leisnoi’s budget. Turvey says prior to 2010, the corporation had been financially unstable. That was largely due to contested titles on lands which Leisnoi claimed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
“The corporation had been involved in litigation for over three decades, and all of the resources that came into the company had to be used to address and fight that litigation, so when that finally ended was when the corporation was in a position to take advantage of the natural resources available to it, the spruce trees, and log those areas so that we could put a financial base to the corporation.”
Turvey says, since 2011, Leisnoi has been able to provide annual dividends to its roughly 430 shareholders. She says the corporation also wants to build its business sector from the profit they’ve made from selling the trees. Turvey says where the trees go is up to logging operator A-1.
“The contract as we took it over in 2011 identifies that and spells out Leisnoi gets paid a certain dollar figure per million board feet that’s logged, and A-1 basically then owns the logs as they’re harvested and comes through, so then they take the responsibility of getting them to market.”
Turvey says she believes A-1 is selling the trees overseas to Asian markets.
As part of the conclusion to the last few years of timber harvest, Leisnoi held a replanting event with the Chiniak School last Thursday to educate kids about reforestation. Turvey says Leisnoi’s forester went over the process in general and covered Leisnoi’s efforts on its Chiniak lands.
“We have been replanting ever since the logging project has been ongoing, and we wanted to get that information out there and let people know that we’re going to continue those replanting efforts. Since 2009, Leisnoi has put 1.7 million seedlings in the ground in the Chiniak area, and in just over the last six weeks in 2016, we put almost 400,000 seedlings in the grounds of areas that had been recently harvested.”
Turvey says Leisnoi will schedule a community meeting in Chiniak later this fall to talk about the corporation’s plans moving forward.