Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
A bill expanding the Southeast Alaska State Forest will soon head to the governor’s office.
The Senate passed the measure Thursday. The House approved the bill earlier this month. Governor Sean Parnell asked for the legislation, so he’s expected to sign it.
The measure adds 23 parcels totaling about 23,000 acres to the forest. That almost doubles its size. The land is already owned by the state, and most of it is designated for logging.
Ketchikan Republican Representative Kyle Johansen says residents will still be able to hunt, fish and camp.
“The way the bill is structured, it allows for state-managed multiple use,” Johansen said. “It not only focuses on state forestry, but it also allows for protecting areas.”
The Legislature created the state forest last year with 20 parcels totaling about 25,000 acres. It’s spread out, rather than in one area. The new additions are on Mitkof, Wrangell, Prince of Wales, Dall and some other islands, as well as the mainland.
House Bill 105 passed the Legislature without objection. Johansen says most of the debate took place last session.
“That’s why adding to it wasn’t really much of a discussion,” Johansen said. “We’d already gone through the difficult process of crafting parameters around the bill.”
Forestry officials say designating the land as a state forest allows for more intensive management. That includes tree-thinning to speed growth.
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