Forest Products Cluster Working Group Initiatives

Cluster Co-Chairs: Facilitation transferred to The Working Forest Group in 2012


  • Changes were achieved within the US Forest Service’s Tongass timber management to benefit small mills: the USFS broadened the size of small sales from 500,000 to 1,000,000 board feet (1 mmbf) and stopped grading red cedar.
  • A timber base analysis was accomplished and published.
  • A non-profit, the Working Forest Group, was created to promoted inter-industry development of working forests in Alaska.

A detailed review of Forest Products Cluster Working Group initiatives is found below.

Simplify the Small Timber Sale Process

The goal of this initiative was to help the small mills on POW to operate more efficiently, economically, and with more supply certainty.

  • This initiative reviewed the problems of small timber mills and identified several steps that could be taken by the USFS to simplify the system to bring small sales up for bid in order to improve access to a consistent supply of timber for small mills. The steps identified included:
    • Develop criteria and policies that allow for some small sales to be put out for bid with a “no export” clause;
    • Extend the time frame to access units that have recently been harvested to provide for access to resources such as personal and commercial firewood, salvage timber sales and subsistence opportunities such as hunting.
    • Broaden the size of small sales from 500,000 to 1,000,000 board feet (1 mmbf) and extend timeframe for harvest of small sales ;
    • Evaluate opportunities to increase the milling of Red and Yellow Cedar logs locally that may otherwise be exported in the round, and develop local processing to the greatest extent possible.
  • Attention focused on this issue prompted the USFS to stop grading red cedar. It appeared that most purchasers did not use or rely on this information and discontinuing this aspect of sale preparation would decrease time and costs of getting a sale out the door.
  • The USFS also broadened the size of small sales from 500,000 to 1,000,000 board feet (1 mmbf), and the timeframe was extended for harvest of small sales.

Conduct a Timber Base Analysis to Determine the Volume of Young Growth and Old Growth Supply for Sustaining and Strengthening the Forest Industry in Southeast Alaska

This initiative’s goal was to prepare a report on how quickly a sustainable young growth harvest can commence in the Tongass based on current harvest information with respect to available acreage, growth, yield, harvesting costs, markets and rotation age.

  • The report concluded that unless multiple variables change in the Tongass, such as land use designation, riparian and other buffers and timber land reductions, there is not enough old growth volume available to serve as a bridge for implementation of the forest plan. The transition from an old growth harvest is more than 30 years away. Until then, it will continue to be necessary to mix in old growth volume to build economy of scale for harvest.
  • Members of this initiative team formed a non-profit, The Working Forest Group, to promote and support responsible resource development in Alaska through alignment of multiple industries seeking sustainability across environmental, social and economic sectors. The Working Forest Group was incorporated in June 2012 as an industry led organization promoting inter-industry development of working forests in Alaska, and cooperative agreements were established to continue analysis work on young growth and old growth. JEDC ended facilitation of the Forest Products Cluster Working Group and passed along the facilitation of Forest Products resource management at the request of this non-profit.