June 7, 2016
 
The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senate
SH 709 Hart Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
 
Re: Tongass Land Management Plan Record of Decision Amendment
 
Dear Senator Murkowski:
 
The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) is writing to support your amendment to the Senate wildfire bill to postpone the signing of the Record of Decision for the Tongass National Forest Land Management Plan (TLMP).
 
RDC is an Alaskan business association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, forest products, tourism and fisheries industries. RDC’s membership includes Alaska Native Corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.
 
The Record of Decision should not be signed until the U.S. Forest Service completes a full inventory of young-growth timber in the Tongass in a timely manner. The inventory, combined with a financial analysis of young-growth manufacturing, will enable an accurate determination on the feasibility of early transition to young-growth harvests.
 
At this time, the proposed early transition to young-growth harvest makes little sense. The region’s remaining sawmills cannot manufacture their current high-value lumber from small diameter young-growth trees and the cost of shipping small log commodity lumber to the Puget Sound region places Alaska sawmills at a competitive disadvantage to mills that are already producing similar lumber in the Lower 48.
 
The current timber supply crisis in Southeast Alaska has resulted in part from the Forest Service diverting some of its timber sale preparation efforts to young-growth projects. In addition, the high-cost constraints of the 2008 TLMP has caused even young-growth log export sales to be marginally economic.
 
RDC supports your effort to delay the signing of a TLMP Transition Amendment until a complete inventory and financial analysis of manufacturing young-growth timber in the national forest is completed.
 
Sincerely,
 
Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.