Robert W. Loescher
Timber industry perspective; Landmark trees; Robert W. Loescher
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
24 Jul 1998
- Juneau; One Sealaska Plaza
- 58.3 -134.40778
- Sennheiser MKH 40
Stereo=1; Only ch. 1 recorded; converted to 2 ch. Mono during LNS digitization
NPR/National Geographic Society
Right in front of the sea alaska building, recording only with left channel at the moment with a carteoid mkh 40, this is the sound of the building.
:35 bird calling, wind
about to do interview with rep, been asked not to record in stereo bc of the intimidating zepplin they're afraid he's going to be defensive , so mono--
1:47 car starts
motor approaching, dies down 2:15
wind, bird calling
Chris talking, "you don't have to roll"
Chris and Marcea talking
group talking in background, off-mic., low levels
@6:00 introductions w Vicki and Chris and Vicki talking about Alaska story and making appointment to speak w Bob Loesher.
low talking @9:00
hi i'm going to put you in another room, mr Loesher is taking care of his teleconference and we'll be w you momentarily. he'll talk w you about those two subjects the T lump (?) and the future of the timber industry 10:25
arranging interview set-up.
no speaking from @16:00--20:20
greetings between Marcea, Chris, Bob
Chris speaking off-mic, explaining RE abd Alaska story to Bob
okay my name is Robert W Loesher. I'm the president and chief exec. officer of sea alaska corporation based in Juneau AK.
so we should talk i guess first about what's happened to the timber industry
i've been w sea alaska for twenty years and i started out in the nat resources dept doing the land sel under the alaska native claims settlement act then setting up our subsidiary activitiesw sea alaska timber corp and our minerals group and theni headed the nat resources dept which acts as a land steward for our interest in about 600,000 land in southeast which will own of what 330,000 acres which are heavily timbered to old growth spruce hemlock and cedar
so have how have you seen the timber change over that period of time?
i believe that we are going through a dynamic change in terms of the global change where southeast ak fits into that global market whether you are in private timber, or public or other state or univ timber land interests. sea alaska has been involved with timber industry for about twenty years we been primarily involved in export roundlog business but also we have been involved in marketing lumber and opther products from up and down the pacific nw in to the asian market we have sold products in na markets as well we uh in the last sev yrs have seen a fundamental chnge in the roundlog export market and that has to do with global competitioncoming in from sweden , finland, scandinavian countries that are selling engineered wood products into na and into asia and also we 've seen sub of supply from chile w the ___pine ne zealand and the russian timber has virtually displaced the na soft wood that's trad gone into asia either as a log or lumber product. this fund change coupled with the market slide which has been unprecedented since about feb/march of 1997 hss caused sae alaska to change its whole vis odf the future about how we will fit sea alaska owns about 3.5 ft of board feet of standing old growth timber and so we are going to be in the timber bus for the long term the ? is on what basis we'll be in that business . our strat is to bc of the law that enables alaska native corp to export logs into asia intend to keep our position for as much of our inventory as we can in the market place in asia maybe as much as 40% improved profits by exporting roundlogs then if we took our total inven and put it into primary or secondary logging and so he have a large ? we have to be profitable and opt our sales where we can but bc of the fund change in the makrket tthat slide that we see in the asian market, sea alaska now has to analyze whether or not we should be in the primary or secondary wood manufacturing
pause for a second what is primary, secondary?
well primary and secondary-- under the us govt, the us forest service is req to have primary man of us forest timber that means they have to break that log into a ___kant or into a lumber product in order to have man in the us and then to have jobs and that's the mission of the us govt. so when we talk about primary ,man we equate that as the breakdown of the log and sec man is taking a lumber product and doing further processing like into windows, doors frames that kind of thing furniture and that's what we call sec and then there's tertiaryu wyou can atke it even further but we are exam our pos of whether we should be moving toward primanry and sec man given that there's such a fund change in the global market with regard to wood products around the world particularly in asia we see alot of change and in the us cert gives you pause around the world and then the market in the us cert gives you pause and opp in terms of what you can do with the wood that we ahve so this has ocurred in the last couple of yrs and coupled with that is the tongass land management plan. sea alaska corporation and its shareholders have been v supportive habout getting the tongass landmanagement plan completed getting appeals process completed in wdc and then seeing that the us forest servicve in part the region 10 office in juneau gets their management direction and funding implement that plan and we are the largest private landownner in the tongass forest so our neighbor is the us forest service so we have a lot of interest in having compatible managemnt prescriptions on adjacent ladn and we'd like to see that happen sooner rather athn later and of course we're not only what timber supply could come out of the tongass nat managemnet plan but we're also int in the man land policies for other things like tourism rec fisheries and other uses of the forest and also on how the us forest serv to manage and protect (loud tone) the opp and took our primary
my vague understanding is... you have a finite private land that you are holding...i don't know where...i wonder whether the intent of alaska is to move into other sources of income as the resource dwindles...do you see ak diversifying away from timber...
well you know sea alaska has 16 shareholders about half of whom live in southeaster ak. our land sel surr the rural comm of southeastern ak we been in bus 20 yrs , i told you we have 3.5 bill board feet of timber left standing and our ownership our private ...in the 20 yrs that we've been in op out of 330,000 acres pot timberland that we own we've only cut 43, 000 acres and that's just a frac of our ownership uh we uh as a result of the ak claims settlement act are converting inheritance in nat res whether it be timber or minerals or strat real estate dev into cash for our shareholders for reinvestment and dividends and we've been able to do that on a market driven basis and we up our volume when the market will allow for opt returm we reduce our market like in this current market to almost half of what we normally produce so we're market driven uh sea alaska if very div com and in addition to our nat resources act in southeastern ak most of our act are outside ak we're invested in the stockmarket we're invested in many companies from our port of in in stock market last yr we purchased tri-quest precision engineering plastics com based out of vancouver, wash has plants clagary and _____and we tend to diversify in the next couple yrs so its kind of a mis-impression although we're an ak based company we're quite global in terms of our investment program and who we do bus w/
one wonders how people who live on usbsistence farming how that can work w logging the old growth forests and how sea ak manages that.
from your vantage point there looks like there is a diff, from our vantage point it doesn't uh basically we're a tribal corp this ak natuve tribal settlement act set up regional and village corp but our true origins is that the lands and the res that we set on in the us court of claims to the ___tribal council lawsuit many yrs ago set in 1965 which set the basis for the ak natve set act precedence reg aborigional rights and ownership of ak native people tied v closely to tribes and clans abdsed in southeastern ak so we're basically a tribal corp and the people taht own this corp are all tribal members who happen to own stock in sea alaska corp about 100 shares each so we're kind of like a cor p dem but our real origin is in clan ownership of the waters the timbers, land, streams in our region and the prob w sub is a non-native word what we call our trad lifestyle our cul living the gathering of fish and wildlife and berries the wood for tribal houses we virt have lived here since time immemorial and pasrt of the ak native set act in the leg history congressman udall id the issue of subsistence what we call trad cul use of nat resources and we basically recognized that in the claims acta and dealt with it when they passed the ak natural interests act title 8 we rec that rural people "" had the right to subsist for they're living that has not changed...and what we are going through is a defining moment betweeen the state of alaska and the fed govt and the laws that were pASsed under title 8...that provided for and protected a rural way of life opr a cul amd trad way of life and we have an arg of constitutional principles whether or not right s provided under state fconstitution are in conflict w the us congress's plenary authority over indian affairs to grant the right of use of nat resources on fed lanmds so called subsistence and so that's where we are now and native people notithstanding this arg that's going on through state leg and in lawsuis and in the courts are going to sub in the cul and trad ways that they have for centuries nothwith stnding govt act notwithstanding corporate act but we're very sensitive to our sub needs of our tribal members our shareholders.39:35
...aside from the legal ramifications...in tersm of asking how is it possible to have sub way of life and also have logging in the rate that goes on in the past will you continue to log as you have in the past but still manage to find an environment for sub
well logging in the past i told you sea ak 's rate versus our total ownership and you may have seen in rural southeastern ak logging done on village corp which was diff done on a diff rate they logged they're ownership and sea alaska has a sustained yield logging program ....but our sustained yield logging program but our sus yield number is around 70- 75 billion board feet on a cont basis but i also said that we're market driven and our logging rate could go up or down depending on the at rate uh w regard to the impact to resources...fisheries deer bear, berries plants our viewo of that is that the ak prac act the fed laws dealing w air uql water qual , postal zone management all of those l;aws we have fully complied w and those laws work to protect streams, how to proetct habitat ..and we believe And we 've done studies over a continuous period now and have peer review by govt and private agancies that our management prescriptions are protecting those streams and now we've even gone back to the leg this past yr to even add more law and reg to protect those streams even further industry driven changes, w regard to deer and bear, we have more deer than ever and new regeneration of forest and trees and shrubs have created a real opp for deer habitat and more deer feed the only prob is and it remains to be seen is whether the forest harvest cutting layouts provide main old growth to proect deer from the 100 yr storm, winter kill storms that occur and thstate of ak fish and game is v concerned about that and we have researchers w our private companies to dev studies to det whether we are going to have impact on these areas but we're concerned about deer habitat but i will tell you that there are more deer now than there were ten yrs ago but on the other hand, is what happens in the 100 yr storm
some folks say that after a clearcut you get really good deer about 7 yrs and then the uniformity of the neww spruce but in about all same age they close the canopy and then all the deer leave the forest...
we are now reinvesting in of over private and the
DAT 6 (continued)
yea, there's something else, people say that after a clearcut you get rid of good deer habitat for about seven yrs and then the uniformity of the new spruce and hemlock since they're all the same age in about 70-50 yrs they close the canopy and that great deer habitat disappears bc nothing grows underneath.
well i have 2 comments about that and this may enhance yr uniformity argument but we think feel about what we're doing, we are now reinvesting in ___culture sea alaska has about a 29 million dollar reserve fund helping reforestation tree thinning, pruning and fertilization programs and we been undertaking these ___culture practices for 8-9 yrs now and intend to keep going forward as our harvest rotation goes forward in that there's a lot of natural regeneration from nat seeding our biggest problem is thinning and pruning and making sure that certain areas that are not prone to regeneration w/i a five yr period have to have a little help to make that happen but we're kind of proud of our program and we're kind of a leader in that program working close to us forest service as they do theirs and try to bring tech capabilities to the tongass that haven't bennn here before, the other is, uh you know it may seem like a strange point to discuss but our little 300, 000 acres of timberland, private timberland versus 21 million acre national forest seems kind of miniscule in terms of the big argument of whether or not we should harvest timberland and then what happens to impact to other resources i think we've been cognizant of the needs of other nat resources fish and wildlife and birds but our impact is not as great and if you look at the conservation lands that are set aside in the tongass better than half or more of the tongass--the actual forest lands are set aside as conservation lands and are prohibited from logging and so i believe there is a good balance between conservation of lands that will enhance all these other resources and a balance against all those lands that can be commercially dev over time
w the balance you've been talking about...is seaalaska is going to be able to maintain its level of logging under this new balance that's been struck?
we're basically bc of our ongoing management have set a sustained yield of about 70-75 million board feet and our porduction to this point was been over 120 million board feet so we're constraining our harvest plan in the future to more of a sustained yield program now in regards to the us forest service and under the recently advanced tongass land management plan we started off at 1.8 million acres of forest land commercial forest land base, that has been reduced under the current tongass land management plan to 660,000 acres and uh i believe that uh future logging on fed forest lands is going to be much diminished i believe that the timber volume which has been set at 265,000,000 board feet in the plan, we'll be lucky to see a volume between a hundred and a million board feet and that number prob averaging around less than 200 board feet if we're lucky at all because of the management prescriptions and the way that the harvest has to take place in the future so you've seena major downsizing of the harvest program that the fed govt is going to be able to participate or supply in and this going to cost, it has already cost and we're sort of in a transition alaska pulp corp, sitca is gone the louisiana pacific contract is almost gone except for around 200,000,000 million board feet that they received in settlement they'll produc in two yrs and they'll be gone so we're going to be in this new management program somewhere between 100-267 million board feet in order to have a new industry that industry will be composed of the survivors that are currently in the industry it will be a downsized industry more to primary and secondary manufacturing of products it will require a blending of what i call the wood basket meaning no one company who is involved in manufacturing in se alaska will be able to supply itself singularly with fed timber, or any other source of timber it has to be a blendedwood basket it will be an optimized wood basket means species sorts and grades...and we're headed for a new , if alaska saw mills are to be competitive in the global market they have to be cost comp in both man and transportation so i see a much changed timber industry for se alaska the tongass forest in the future.
--cj interesting...you've outlined how things have to change...if all things go as you just described, what about health of of forest--old growth forest?...
51: 29 bl
the answer's yes, i believe that the diversity in ages of timber stands will provide for diversity of fish, wildlife, birds and maintain the water quality uh i see it a little diff than you do, i just don't see olg growth v new growth harvest i think the timber industry has been in se alaska 70-80 yrs now the harvest of the second growth or availability of second growth timber there about 55-65 yrs old now and then young growth and the new harvest area are being diminshed quite substantially because of public policy the old growth stands, again i harken back if you look at how many acres in the tongass forest are set aside for conservation areas and then you look at the t-lump plan how many acres are set aside as roadless areas, the lion's share of the tongass forest are the 21 million acres--...over 2/3 of the forest is conserved in old growth habitat and i think people of the nation and the world should recog how much has been conserved by public policy in se alaska. t lump is a tool that we need to get finalized it gives the direction and the mandate for the us forest service management, it stabilizes and provides a guarantee to all the diff users of the forest, whether you're in tourism fisheries, timber, mining, or just people who want to conserve the forest it sets the tone for the future of the forest and a large part of that is the conservation areas are a part of that overall plan and sea alaska supports that.
cj...do you think the environmental movement understands that?
the environemental movement, se alaska conservation society, wilderness society, sierra club, we've all worked together on these plans and sea alaska knows these people and the native poele know those people and we've been allies on many issues and we believe that the t lump plan is the plan we need to support and go forward with...
door shuts, room ambi to 57:35 distant car, 59:50 ends
outside, car, wind, trying to get ravens, distant calls, 1:01:22 bird calls (not much) --1:01:33, car passing
54:56 AMBI room for int w Bob Loesher
@57:30 faint motor from outside room
AMBI ends at 59:50
ambi outside 1:00:00 cars, wind,
1:00:45 waiting for raven sound, motors, flying away.1:01:34, raven squack, cars passing, 1:01:59 car starts-up, never really hear ravens