The Wood Quality Cooperative Study will involve Pacific Northwest Research Station and Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisc. The aim of the study is to gather information about the volume and quality of lumber products that could be manufactured from young-growth western hemlock and Sitka spruce.
There are approximately 435,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest lands in a young-growth condition.
As part of the study, about 460 trees will be harvested from nine locations on Prince of Wales Island and Mitkof Island. These areas were previously thinned between 1962 and 1985. All areas slated for thinning are located along the existing road system so the project will not require any new road construction.
The trees will be processed at a mill in Thorne Bay and the Ketchikan Wood Technology Center, a partner of the Tongass National Forest, will conduct testing on the wood for mechanical properties to determine potential lumber quality.
This study is important for the communities of Southeast Alaska, according to Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole.
"As an agency charged with a multiple-use mission and with the dramatic decline of timber harvesting on public lands we need to be creative in delivering opportunities for natural resource use to support jobs and community sustainability," explained Cole.
zThe Tongass has large areas of second growth, also referred to as young growth, that is maturing to commercial size and there is a lack of site-specific data on how best to manage these areas.
Cole said the study is one of several projects planned on the Tongass to address second-growth management questions.
"Aside from this cooperative wood quality study, we also have various projects in the works to evaluate the effectiveness of second-growth thinning to improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity," he said.
Habitat improvement projects can enhance the health of the land, increase recreational opportunities, benefit subsistence users and help local economies.
It's a win-win situation, said Cole.
These restoration activities improve ecosystem health and can provide raw timber materials to help local, family-owned businesses as a by-product of habitat improvement.
According to Cole, with the future of public land management trending more towards ecological restoration and outdoor recreation opportunities, these projects can help deliver the many things the public wants from their national forests, including clean water, outstanding scenery, wildlife habitat, safe and healthy recreation opportunities, and inexpensive but high-quality wood products.
"The many projects underway and planned for the Tongass will assist us in meeting these diverse needs while properly managing the land for long-term ecosystem health," said Cole. "But, we can't do it without the public's involvement."
If you have any questions, or would like to provide comments concerning the Wood Quality Cooperative Study, please contact Cynthia Sever by March 21 at the Tongass Supervisor's Office in Petersburg, Alaska. Her phone number is (907) 772-3841, or fax to (907) 772-5893. Sever also can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail, at P.O. Box 309, Petersburg, Alaska 99833.
Information concerning the various land management projects on the Tongass can be found on the web at www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass