Stuntzner Engineering & Forestry, along with Tetra Tech Environmental, was awarded a contract to complete a second-growth thinning assessment on approximately 15,000 acres of 30-55 year old timber on Prince of Wales Island. For this contract, we are to develop treatment options looking at the next 20 years, evaluate market options for the timber products, assess logging system requirements, and assess the economics of each option. There is currently a strong political push to convert the timber industry on the Tongass from an old-growth based industry to a second-growth based industry similar to what has happened in the Pacific Northwest national forests over the past 30 years. However, there are many challenges that face the Tongass in this endeavor.
Our assessment along with other internal planning projects that the Forest is implementing is starting to lay the groundwork for starting commercial thinning treatments in the second-growth forests on the Tongass. At this time, the environmental community appears to be very supportive of making this transition. They recognize the need for maintaining a viable timber industry in this area in order to maintain healthy forests. In fact, The Nature Conservancy is currently heading up an Integrated Resource Management Planning committee that is looking at developing a management plan for the Staney Creek drainage, one of the heaviest harvested areas on the Tongass. The timber on the Tongass is just now becoming of size to begin this transition. Over the next 20 years, the amount of second-growth timber available and the need for treatment will steadily increase.