KETCHIKAN, AK — U.S. Forest Service will auction rights to almost 10 square miles of logging rights at Tongass National Forest. Hemlock, spruce and cedar woodlands will be sold in an effort to support logging and sawmill firms until second growth forest lands mature.

Hemlock, Spruce, Cedar Logging Auction at Tongass Forest  The U.S. Forest Service began a public process last fall to modify the Tongass National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, to identify "the timber base suitable to support a transition to young-growth management, in a way that supports the continued viability of the forest industry in Southeast Alaska, per the direction of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack," the agency said in a release last fall.

The move is controversial, and environmental groups  are suing to block the auction. The 17-million-acre Tongass in Southeast Alaska is the largest reserve in the National Forest System. Just last summer Secretary Vilsack outlined plans to preserve old-growth forests there

In October, Vilsack announced a moves to allow a change in policy in the Tongass Forest Plan and 5-Year Review documents, online at http://1.usa.gov/15FCWGl. The USDA Secretary’s memo can be found at http://1.usa.gov/1eUSNKG.

Last year Sitka, AK high schools launched a wood training program to orient students to building cabinets and furniture using lumber derived from second-growth forests.

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