Clear-cuts and old-growth forests are part of the view of Indian Valley on Prince of Wales Island. The Forest Service just announced three more timber sales in the Island's Big Thorne area.

Clearcuts and old-growth forests are part of the view on Prince of Wales Island. (Nick Bonzey, Flick Creative Commons)

The Tongass Advisory Committee will kick off a three-day meeting in Ketchikan Wednesday morning, and on the agenda is the potential adoption of recommendations to the U.S. Forest Service.

The TAC was formed last summer after Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack ordered Tongass National Forest officials to come up with a plan to transition from old-growth to second-growth timber harvest over the next 10 to 15 years.

The committee is expected to give recommendations to help move that planning process forward. The committee includes representatives of the timber industry, conservation groups and local governments. They’ve met in various communities in Southeast Alaska since last August.

The committee and its work aren’t without controversy. The Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, for example, sent out comments this week questioning the conservation representatives chosen for the committee. The comments also criticized the focus on timber, rather than including other forest uses.

According to a summary of the last meeting, which took place in Juneau, the committee talked about the time frame, and noted that the first five years likely would see a gradual shift toward young growth. That time period will be used for planning and identifying stands. The second five years would speed the process up.

The Tongass Advisory Committee meetings start at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Ted Ferry Civic Center. It will start with a review of the goals, and a discussion about the likelihood of agreement on some recommendations. The meeting goes through 5 p.m., and reconvenes Thursday morning at 8. That morning also is the time scheduled for public comment, starting at 8:30.

A potential vote on a package of recommendations is set for Thursday afternoon, between 3:30 and 5 p.m.