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Forest Management in Alaska

Forest Practices

Alaska Board of Forestry

The Alaska Board of Forestry advises the state (Alaska Department of Natural Resources - Division of Forestry) on forest practices issues and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of forest management issues on state land. The board also reviews all proposed changes to the Alaska Forest Resources and Practices Act and its regulations. Board members are appointed by the governor for three-year terms, and represent a variety of forest-related interests.

Second generation Alaskan Forest

Background

The Alaska Forest Resources and Practices Act (FRPA, AS 41.17) governs how timber harvesting, reforestation, and timber access occur on state, private, and municipal land. Forest management standards on federal land must also meet or exceed the standards for state land established by the Act. The FRPA was originally adopted in 1978. Major revisions were adopted in 1990 to address riparian management on private land, enhance notification procedures for timber operations, reorganize the Board of Forestry, and establish enforcement procedures. Additional changes to the stream classification system and riparian management standards for coastal forests (Region I) were adopted in 1999.

Purpose

The Act is designed to protect fish habitat and water quality, and ensure prompt reforestation of forestland while providing for a healthy timber industry. The FRPA ensures that both the timber and commercial fishing industries can continue to provide long-term jobs.

Key provisions

The Act addresses these goals by:

  • Requiring that landowners notify the state before beginning commercial timber operations.
  • Setting standards for forest management along waterbodies, including buffers (see Table 1).
  • Allowing for harvest of valuable, individual trees within buffers when it can be done without harming fish habitat or water quality. Harvest within buffers requires agency approval.
  • Setting standards to prevent erosion into waterbodies.
  • Requiring reforestation on all forest ownerships except where the land will be converted to another use, or where the harvest area is significantly composed of dead or dying trees.

Best management practices

Regulations adopted under 11 AAC 95 also establish best management practices for road construction and maintenance, and for timber harvesting. These standards are designed to prevent adverse impacts to fish habitat and water quality from timber operations.

Regions and applicability

Alaska is divided into three forest practices regions:

Region I covers coastal forests from Southeast Alaska through Prince William Sound, the eastern Kenai Peninsula, the Kodiak Archipelago, and parts of the Alaska Peninsula.

Region II is the boreal forest south of the Alaska Range.

Region III is the boreal forest in Interior Alaska. Standards for riparian management and reforestation vary by region.

The FRPA applies to commercial timber operations on forestland, including harvesting, roading, site preparation, thinning, and slash treatment operations on forestland. Operations must comply with the FRPA if they are larger than 10 acres in Region I or larger than 40 acres in Region II. In Region III, it applies to operations larger than 40 acres for forest landowners that own more than 160 acres in total. All commercial harvest operations that encompass or border surface waters or a riparian area also must comply with the Act, regardless of their size.


Supporting Documentation
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