Story last updated at 12/23/2009 - 12:19 pm
TENAKEE SPRINGS - The Tenakee Logging Company harvests and processes small U.S. Forest Service timber sales to provide lumber and timber products for local building and construction projects in the Chichagof Island community of Tenakee Springs. The small family-run business also provides local wood, specially milled for artists, furniture makers, luthiers, and builders outside of the Tenakee area who seek fine-grained, old growth wood to produce their finished products.
"Our timber sales are selective cuts which are designed to leave a viable stand after careful extraction of marked trees," said Gordon Chew, owner of Tenakee Logging Company. "Custom milling is our specialty, and we are ready to meet new customers with varied orders."
Chew has worked for over 26 years as a shipwright, marine surveyor, builder, designer and timber manufacturer. He and his wife, Anne Connelly, constructed a six-ton wooden cutter in 1983 on Hope Island near Olympia, Wash., which ultimately led them on a six-and-a-half-year voyage around the Pacific Rim. They sailed south and east, down the west coast of the Americas to the Galapagos, then through the island nations of the Pacific as far west as New Zealand. Their son Sterling joined them in New Zealand for the trans-equatorial passage home via Fiji, Tonga and Kiribati to Hawaii.
Searching for a home led them northwest to Alaska with their new daughter Meryl in 1994. In 1999 they settled in Tenakee Springs.
"The hot mineral springs and the spectacular surroundings sealed this deal for us," Chew said.
Chew has worked in all of the western states. When he and his young family settled in Tenakee, he first put his skills as a carpenter to use. Over the years his carpentry business led him into timber processing with his son Sterling.
"We were faced with huge transportation expenses of importing lumber for our projects," Chew said. "We have worked to find better ways to provide local timber to our customers, at competitive prices."
As active environmentalists, they see themselves charting new waters in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.
"By navigating the process of responsible logging in the Tongass National Forest, my son Sterling and I feel that we are actively working to unify historically polarized groups," Chew said. The Tenakee Logging Company has received support from both the Southeast Alaska Conservation Coalition (SEACC) and the US Forest Service for their sustainable harvesting practices.
"We will continue to demonstrate that there is room in this great forest for our varied needs," Chew said.
In their down time, Gordon and Sterling enjoy fishing and playing music in the Tenakee rock and blues dance band.