Tribal Council sets timber allowable cut

The Branch of Natural Resources Forestry reported to Tribal Council this week on the projected annual allowable cut of reservation timber for 2017-2021.

The allowable cut was then set by Council resolution at 25.1 million board feet per year for that time period.

There is an additional 11 million board feet that is being carried over from the current year. This is an amount that remained unharvested from the 2016 allowable cut, due to the closure of the Forest Products mill.

The vote on the 2017-2021 allowable cut was seven in favor, one opposed, and one abstain. Tribal Forest manager Orvie Danzuka, branch manager Bobby Brunoe and staff made the report to Council on Tuesday, December 13.

The allowable cut is based on forest inventories, the Integrated Resource Management Plan (IRMP), and other relevant documents, Danzuka said.

The 25-million board feet per year figure is considerably less than that from other recent years. The mill required a higher allowable cut to remain in operation, so the figure was adjusted upward to meet this demand.

In 2012, for instance, the allowable cut was over 40-million board feet; and above 30-million in other recent years.

With the mill no longer in operation, the cut can be reduced to the recommended sustainable level.

This can allow for better management in regard to, for instance, huckleberries and other first foods, Danzuka said. Some other points of discussion during the Council session with Natural Resources Forestry:

The mountain pine beetle problem has seen improvement in recent years, said Vernon Wolf of Forestry. However, drought conditions led to forest stress in some areas, providing conditions for some investation from a different kind of beetle, called ips.

Non-drought conditions will alleviate the problem, Wolf said.

Another point of discussion was in regard to logging roads. Forest Products Industries was responsible for maintenance and repair of these roads.

With the enterprise no longer operating, there is a question as to responsibility for this critical work, said Councilman Raymond Tsumpti. Tribal engineer Travis Wells brought up the same point.

The responsible party would be the purchaser of the timber, Danzuka said.

Log trucks traveling at an excessive rate of speed is another problem, Councilman Tsumpti said.

Danzuka said the issue will be brought up with the timber contract administrators.