The Tongass National Forest is developing a commercial thinning project on Prince of Wales Island and is looking for comments from the public. The project, Dargon Point, is a young growth timber project and part of a broader effort by the Forest to transition from old growth to young growth harvest.
Located along the western shore of Prince of Wales Island, approximately three miles north of the community of Naukati, theDargon Point project proposes to commercially thin and harvest mature (60-70 years old) young-growth spruce and hemlock. The stand under consideration was originally harvested in the 1940s.
In order to better understand public thoughts and concerns about the project, the Forest Service has released the “Dargon Point Commercial Thinning Environmental Assessment” (EA) for a 30-day review and comment period. The comment period will begin the day after a Notice of Availability (NOA) is published in the Ketchikan Daily News.
“The project will be pretty wide-ranging in its impacts, from improving forest health and wildlife habitat to providing sawlogs to mills and job opportunities for local contractors,” said Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole. “If approved, the young-growth volume will diversify the current Southeast Alaska timber industry.”
The EA evaluates three alternatives: a no-action and two action alternatives that would provide between 1.4 and 2.5 million board feet (MMBF) of young-growth timber. The Proposed Action, Alternative 2, proposes to thin and harvest about 1.4 MMBF on about 70 acres. Approximately one mile of road construction is planned. The project area and all associated activities occur outside of any inventoried roadless area.
“If approved, the project may be accomplished through stewardship contracting authority,” said Perry Edwards, Acting Thorne Bay District Ranger. “Stewardship contracting helps achieve land management goals while meeting local and rural community needs by providing a continuing source of local income and employment.”
Stewardship contracting authority allows the Tongass National Forest to reinvest payments made for the harvested timber into other local projects such as stream restoration, wildlife habitat improvement, pre-commercial thinning of young-growth stands, and other similar projects. The reinvestment of those funds spurs job creation beyond those of the timber project itself.
The comment period for the EA provides the public an opportunity to make their concerns knowntothe Thorne Bay District Ranger who will ultimately make the decision on the project. Those who provide comments by the close of the comment period will be eligible to appeal the decision. The EA is available online here.
In all correspondence, please include your name, address, and organization name, if a person is commenting as a representative of an organization. Written, faxed, hand-delivered and electronic comments will be accepted as follows:
Written comments can be faxed to (907) 828-3309 or mailed to:
Tongass National Forest
Thorne Bay Ranger District
Attn. Dargon Point Project EA
P.O. Box 19001
Thorne Bay, AK 99919-0001
Hand-delivered comments should be brought to the Thorne Bay Ranger District, 1312 Federal Way, Thorne Bay, AK 99919-0001. The hours for submitting hand-delivered comments are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
Electronic comments must be submitted with the following subject line, “Dargon Point Project,” and as part of the actual e-mail message, or as a .doc, .txt, .pdf, or .rtf attachment to email@example.com