In June, the Choggiung Limited board of directors voted to restrict wood cutting on the corporation’s lands to shareholders only. The board further decided that harvest would be for personal use only, denying others the chance to buy cut wood from a Choggiung shareholder.
Those decisions left some area residents concerned about their home heating options this winter.
Several began calling and emailing Rep. Bryce Edgmon and Sen. Gary Stevens, and DNR’s Forestry office in Palmer as well.
“The newly announced policy of Choggiung LTD as well as the closure of state lands to firewood cutting is leaving a number of families totally without options to heat their homes,” reads one email copied to all three offices. “The ultimate result of these policies is that some families are feeling their basic well being deeply threatened.”
The pressure may have paid off. DNR’s Forestry Division office in Palmer said some state lands north of Dillingham and near Aleknagik should be open in time for winter.
“We’ve been working with [DNR’s] Division of Lands,” said Rick Jandreau, a forestry officer based in Palmer. “Lands that were designated for settlement, that at one time they did not want any trees harvested from, we were able to talk to them about doing some dead wood harvest there.”
He could not yet specify exactly how many acres of state land will be open for harvest, but did indicate he thinks it will be enough to cover those who need wood this year.
“I hope so,” he said, “because that’s most of the lands DNR has juridiction over.”
Jandreau said the open lands will be north of Dillingham, predominately to the west of Lake Road.
He said his office is finalizing the agreement and working on printing maps to prevent confusion or accidental trespassing.
Jandreau expects the land to be open within a week or two. No word yet on whether or not a permit will be required to cut the firewood on state lands.