The Tongass Advisory Committee, also known as TAC, held its first meeting last week in Ketchikan.
TAC is a newly formed committee charged with helping the U.S. Forest Service switch its timber industry in the Tongass National Forest from old-growth timber to new-growth.
Wayne Benner is the city administrator for Thorne Bay and he sits on the committee. He said the goal is to establish a new rotation of timber harvests in order to preserve the old growth in the forest.
“If the Forest Service can get into a cycle where they’ve got enough acreage and plots that they can grow that kind of… I call them crops, then they can shy away from harvesting some of the old, old timber and save that timber for more of a specialty type use,” Benner said.
The committee has a May 2015 deadline to make recommendations to the Forest Service about a number of topics involved in the transition, including the changes lumber mills might have to make.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” Benner said. “The bottom line is basically that the communities within the Tongass National Forest can continue to thrive and prosper.”
The committee is comprised of 15 representatives from federal and local governments, the timber industry, environmental organizations and Alaska Native organizations. TAC meets again September 10-12 in Juneau.