A Working Forest



A WORKING FOREST is a model in sustainability, in which the primary goal is to unite those with common interests and provide support for the ENVIRONMENT, the SOCIAL STRUCTURE of communities, and a resource-based ECONOMY. Read what a WORKING FOREST can do for Alaska.


Our Mission

Is to educate Alaskan’s by promoting and implementing active forest management.



Clare Doig, President/Vice President
Forest and Land Management Consultant

Paul Slenkamp, Secretary/Treasurer
Sr. Resource Manager, Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office

Patrick Kelly, Member At Large
University of Alaska

Glen Holt, Member At Large
Eastern Alaska Forester at University of Alaska Fairbanks - ‎University of Alaska Fairbanks

Wade Zammit, Member At Large

Erin McLarnon

The Working Forest Concept

What can a working forest do for alaska

  1. Promote cooperation between multiple forest users encouraging use of natural resources in a responsible and renewable manner
  2. Create wealth, provide local jobs and stimulate workforce development
  3. Enhance wildlife habitats, recreational uses and subsistence activities
  4. Provide growth in resource education


Wildland Fire Public Service Safety Announcements


Old Growth Land Base Volume Analysis on the Tongass National Forest
June 24, 2014

Analysis of Old Growth Inventory
Land Base Available for Operations within the Tongass National Forest
June 23, 2014


Consolidated Young Growth Forest Land Analysis For All Land Ownership in SE AK & Recommendations for Federal Land Managers

The Boreal Forest

Interior Alaska Forest Science, Management Practices and News of Interest from theUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service

From the editor:Spring is upon us and we have survived anotherInterior Alaska winter. Thankfully, this year it wasnot as cold or as long as last.I continue working with questions on an array offorestry topics. Many of my workshops since lastfall dealt with how to cut and season firewood andchainsaw use and maintenance. Greater efficiency,cutting less wood, less strain on the resource and your back, and less airpollution are all reasons to season your firewood by cutting, splitting andstacking it under a top covering or in a woodshed.Extension partnered with the Yukon Chapter of the Society of AmericanForesters last February to put on a firewood workshop. Topics ranged fromhow to cut and season firewood to wood stove efficiency. Fifty people at-tended the 4-hour workshop on the UAF campus.Special thank-yous to the Fairbanks business cooperators who donateddoor prize items, including the Outpost, The Woodway, The Great AlaskanBowl Company, Alaska Industrial Hardware and Kathryn Pyne. Thanks formaking this workshop a huge success!If you are looking for forestry outreach or a site visit or if you have a forestpest question or would like a forest management/stewardship plan or assis-tance, please contact me.Have a great spring and summer! Be careful with fire!Glen HoltEastern Alaska Forester

Birch Sap Season

Glen Holt, Eastern Alaska forester, UAF CooperativeExtension ServiceCollecting birch sap is a popular rite of spring in areaswhere birch is prevalent, and vast areas in InteriorAlaska are often blessed with an abundance of birch.Birch sap runs each spring from the roots through thewhole tree during the spring freeze/thaw cycle. Whensap begins to flow, it can be collected for use. To col-lect birch sap, a spout, called a spile, is inserted into ahole drilled about 1½ inches into the tree trunk usinga clean drill bit about ⁷⁄16 of an inch diameter. I use asharp screw-lead auger bit and a hand brace. Collectsap in a sterilized container with a cover on top tokeep impurities, birch seed and bugs out of your sap. Ihave used two-gallon zip-style bags to collect sap, buta sterilized bucket with a lid on it works well.The season is generally three weeks long or lessstarting around mid-April. Collecting sap is a greatway to get out in the spring forest. People drink freshbirch sap from the tap and others store it preservedat around 41°F for up to six days. Some folks freeze itas ice cubes! Others use it for coffee, tea and variousbeverages.I used to collect sap in the Mat-Su area and sell it toa syrup maker. This was fun, and it was my nephew’sfirst source of income. Together we tapped 100 treesand delivered approximately 70 gallons of spar-kling-clear sap every day or two. Some days the sapflowed more than others.Taps may be purchased locally in Fairbanks. Tappingonly a couple of birch trees may yield a gallon ormore of sap each day. Select only healthy birch treesthat are eight inches diameter or larger. Pull your tapswhen the sap becomes less than sparkling clear. Foggylooking sap is called “buddy sap” and signifies the endof tapping season.When the sap season ends, pull your taps and cleanand store them in a covered container. You don’thave to plug the tap hole, but some people do, usinga dowel or cork plug. The hole drilled in the tree willheal well on its own. Contact me if you have any otherquestions about birch tapping. Have fun with it!For more information, see Extension’s new publica-tion, Backyard Birch Tapping Basics, FNH-00150

Fairbanks Soil & Water ConservationDistrict Tree SalesGlen Holt, Eastern Alaska Field Forester, UAF Cooper-ative Extension ServiceSpring is a season of planting, and summer is forgrowing. The Fairbanks Soil and Water ConservationDistrict will be holding its annual tree and shrub saleSaturday, May 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You canpre-order plants or take your chances and see whatthey have available at the tree sale. Pre-orders maybe picked up at the Fairbanks office, located at 590University Avenue, Suite 2.Tree and shrub selections this year include Americancranberry, Amur chokecherry, Amur maple, birch,dwarf Russian almond, iris, late lilac, prickly rose,‘Ranetka’ apple, russet buffaloberry, Saskatoon ser-viceberry, Siberian larch, silverberry, white Rugosarose and white spruce.These species include a variety of native and orna-mental trees and shrubs that have an excellent historyof hardiness in Interior Alaska weather.Check out the FSWCD website at www.fairbankssoil-water.org. For questions or more information, emailthem at FSWCD.trees@gmail.com or call them at907-479-1213, ext. 107.Ruffed Grouse Surveys Near TokGlen Holt, Eastern Alaska Field Forester, UAF Cooper-ative Extension ServiceWhile I was working in the Tok area it became appar-ent that fire and timber harvesting were creating thekind of forest disturbance that certain wildlife relyon for a healthy habitat. The ruffed grouse thrives onearly serial stages of forest regrowth that occur afterharvesting or wildfire.Since wildfire is unpredictable when it come to de-termining how much forest is regenerated, loggingcan be another way to manage diversity and providehabitat requirements of wildlife like ruffed grouse,which clearly need part of their habitat in the youngage classes. Moose, snowshoe hare, lynx, certain spe-cies of song birds and other wildlife also need a mixof forest types to thrive.This spring will be my second season working withthe Alaska Department of Fish and Game, WildlifeDivision doing forest grouse surveys in the Tok area.This research helps the Wildlife Division determinea baseline for forest grouse activity. The informationwill be helpful if additional logging to harvest bio-mass for heating and/or generating electricity occursin the Tok district. The Tok area of Alaska has highheating fuel oil costs and very expensive electricalgeneration that is based on using diesel-fueled gener-ators.Ruffed grouse sitting on a snow bermBirch leaves
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The Boreal Forest eNewsletterSpring 20144I will be working in the Tok area the third week ofApril and the first week of May doing forest grousesurveys. Data on grouse is collected in the earlymorning and late evening as ruffed grouse begin theirdrumming activity and sharp-tailed grouse are in“leks,” groups of male grouse that gather to engagein competitive displays at this time of day to attractfemales.Ruffed grouse make an audible drumming soundby rapidly flapping their wings so that it sounds likeprogressively faster drumming. Sharp-tailed grouse inleks make “cooing” calls and a clattering noise as theystrut and shake their tails. The data gathered helpsbiologists determine population trends and habitatselection.The information will also help the State Division ofForestry and ADF&G jointly determine whetherforest management through logging is working tohelp regenerate the harvested — rather than burned— forest back to a less fire-prone hardwood stand thatincludes aspen and willow, which are preferred treeand shrub species for grouse as well as moose andother wildlife that prefer a younger mixed forest.If you have ruffed or sharp-tailed grouse in your areaand would like to get involved with surveys, let meknow and I will put you in contact with the smallgame biologist and the ADF&G program.Male sharp-tailed grouse strutting on its lekLogging in the Delta Area for WoodPelletsGlen Holt, Eastern Alaska Field Forester, UAF Cooper-ative Extension ServiceRecently, Dr. John Yarie of the School of Natural Re-sources and Extension at UAF and I toured a loggingoperation south of the Delta River and 10 miles westof Delta Junction. We crossed the Delta River on anice road and traveled four miles to the site where Log-ging and Milling Associates out of Dry Creek harvest-ed white spruce, which they sold to Superior PelletFuels in Fairbanks.This timber sale by the State Division of Forestry isa 117-acre unit adjacent to and buffered along theDelta River. The winter roads were well-maintainedto the logging project. Pole-sized and small saw logswere being harvested in a well-stocked stand of whitespruce approximately 130 years old. Similar timberbordered the unit, providing for seed stock, oldergrowth habitat and forest diversity.This stand has been slowing in growth for a numberof years and exhibited a high incidence of rot, winddamage and silt laden bark. Allowing longer growthprobably puts stand dynamics more at risk than har-vesting would at this time because of environmentaland biological factors.The unit laid out by the State Division of Forestry islong and narrow and was being logged efficiently byFeller buncher harvesting timber
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The Boreal Forest eNewsletterSpring 20145cutting three to five acres per day with a single fellerbuncher using a saw blade rather than a shear. Treeswere cut, bunched two to five at a time and laid downin bundles large enough for the grapple skidder tomake an efficient “turn” from the forest to the proces-sor, which was located about 300 yards away along themain winter haul road.We observed the cutting, skidding and processing ac-tivities and also truck loading and hauling. Processedtimber was being loaded on each of five log trucksthat made two trips a day to Superior Pellet Fuels inNorth Pole, about 90-miles west.The processor took each turn as it came in from theskidder and limbed the trees, cut off the tops andstacked the logs for later loading onto the trucks byanother log loader. Tops and limbs were piled outof the way to be gleaned by personal-use firewoodcutters or stacked in piles to be burned when snowfalls next winter. The processor was also able to sortbeetle-killed firewood from better-quality saw logs tosell to other mills or in the community as log-lengthfirewood.Plenty of limbs, tops and tree parts on most portionsof the logged unit will decay back into the soil afterlogging. Many parts of the unit appeared to be par-tially scarified by a combination of the feller bunchertracks and the skidder tires, which had all four tireschained up. Scarification helps expose mineral soil toimprove forest regeneration and the growth of whitespruce, poplar and willow.Log trucks from Superior Pellet Fuels were taking 10to 12 loads a day to North Pole. Logging and Mill-ing and Superior Pellet Fuels are working long daysto take advantage of the great logging and truckingconditions.This method of logging appears to be as high-vol-ume as it gets so far in the Tanana State Forest. Wenoted that research opportunities could include timeactivity, fuel consumption and equipment suitabilitystudies to monitor efficiency and measure equip-ment productivity. This logging system in this type oftimber at this time would closely mimic the kind ofoperation needed to approach best efficiency whileharvesting biomass-sized timber.The processor delimbs trees and cuts them to length.Harvest area with seed treesTrucks loaded with small logs for biomass
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The Boreal Forest eNewsletterSpring 20146Tree Feature: Alaska Birch(Betula neoalaskana)Alaska Birch is the featured tree in this issue of thenewsletter. Birch in Interior Alaska are also knownas paper birch, western paper birch and Alaskapaper birch. Recently, scientists have combined thenames, and birch in Alaska is generally referred toas simply Alaska birch.In the Kenai Peninsula and some areas of South-central Alaska, there is also a variety named Kenaibirch, but the predominant birch found in Interiorand the rest of Alaska is the Alaska birch.Alaska birch is a deciduous tree 20–80 feet tall and4–24 inches in trunk diameter. The main distinc-tion between a birch and other hardwoods foundin Alaska is the papery bark. Bark color may varyfrom white or pinkish white to grayish white oryellowish white.Birch bark can be easily peeled off of the darkerinner bark in late spring and early summer. Thispapery bark is used for making a variety of prod-ucts, including bowls, vessels, cups, lampshades,utensils, shoes and, in the past, birchbark canoes.Birch is predominantly used for firewood. Thelumber is a moderately dense hardwood that oftenneeds to be drilled prior to nailing in order toprevent the wood from splitting. Birch can be kilndried to make beautiful lumber for cabinets, trim,molding, novelty products, bowls, utensils, furni-ture, flooring, plywood, veneer, etc.Crystal-clear sap flows profusely in spring from themiddle of April into May. Good sap years seem todepend on weather and snow presence.People in northern and boreal parts of Europe andAsia, where birch may also be found, have beenusing sap for hundreds of years for beverages orto boil down to make birch syrup. Birch sap hasa different sugar composition and content thanmaple and it takes more than twice as much birchsap (1:100) as it does to make maple syrup (1:35).It would take 100 gallons of carefully boiled birchsap to yield approximately one gallon of syrup.Birch is not a long-lived tree species and it givesway after only 100 years to white spruce trees thathave been growing slowly in the shade. As birchtrees decline due to old age and damage, they makeroom and provide more sunlight for better whitespruce growth. Birch needs full sunlight to prosperand is termed shade-intolerant. Birch trees come
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The Boreal Forest eNewsletterSpring 20147back quickly in thick stands of the same age afterwildfire and logging that exposes mineral soil toseed fall and germination.Timber harvesting systems appropriate for regen-erating a birch forest are “seed tree cuts” and “clearcuts” narrow enough to provide an adjacent seedsource. Both harvest systems must, however, becoupled with mechanical site preparation or con-trolled burning.Birch forests must also successfully regeneratebeyond the ability of moose to completely browseall the regenerating birch seedlings and saplings.Harvesting only small units (about an acre) inareas with a dense population of moose won’t workbecause all the birch regrowth will be browsed bymoose. In those areas, small clear cuts and infre-quent harvesting ensure that growing birch willbecome browsed to death and the forest will revertto a white spruce stand without the early succes-sional stage that normally includes birch.Fairly complete harvesting in larger cuts with sitepreparation that exposes mineral soil and excludesprofuse grass growth for two to five years is abetter method of re-establishing a birch forest afterharvesting. This method most closely mimics theaffects of wildfire.The sapling-sized stage is important to birch regen-eration; after 20 years or more, the birch saplingshave normally grown beyond the ability of mooseto browse them.Alaska birch is:—— A deciduous hardwood with papery bark thatis variably white, grayish or yellowish white.—— The twigs are covered in raised, resinous dots.Winter twigs are reddish and wispy-lookingat a distance.—— The leaves are dark to yellowish green andup to three inches long and two inches wide.Leaf margins are coarsely toothed wedge-shaped.—— A birch forest grows best on warm, well-drained soils but is also common, althoughless vigorous, on cold, north slopes and poor-ly drained lowlands in a mixture with whiteor black spruce.—— Birch trees are shade intolerant. Birch re-growth rapidly declines when trees areover-topped and shaded by other trees. Birchis not a long-lived tree and declines due totrunk rot fungus, snow and wind damage,and frost cracks and after partial harvesting.—— Birch is used for firewood, lumber, woodchips, bark products, sap and wildlife browse.—— Birch regenerates best after fire or withmechanical scarification that exposes min-eral soil to seed fall in areas large enough toovercome excessive moose browsing.—— Birch seedlings need full sunlight to grow andreach maturity. Later in a stand’s age, birch isshaded out and replaced by white spruce.—— Seed tree cuts or clear cuts with pockets ofresidual birch create conditions for birchregeneration if the site is also well-scarified toexpose mineral soil and if lots of grass hasn’talready taken over the understory.Source: Viereck, Leslie A. and Elbert L. Little, Jr.2007. Alaska Trees and Shrubs, 2nd edition. Uni-versity of Alaska Press.
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The Boreal Forest eNewsletterSpring 20148Fire at Millers Reach, 1996, in Big Lake, AlaskaBurning in AlaskaGlen Holt, Eastern Alaska forester, UAF CooperativeExtension ServiceAs spring progresses, the snow will leave and bereplaced with dead grass that will soon become tin-der-dry and a serious spring wildfire hazard. Land-owners everywhere need to know about safe burningpractices and how to prevent an escaped burn thatcould become a wildfire. The Alaska Division of For-estry writes the following:—— Most wildland fires in populated areas arecaused by careless human activity.—— Alaska’s fire season is from April 1 to August 31.—— A burn permit is required during fire season forall open burning, with few exceptions.—— State laws and regulations pertaining to burningpractices apply statewide all year (AS 41.15.010-41.15-170 and 11 AAC95 Article 6).—— Burn permits are subject to restrictions, suspen-sions and closures.—— Experience has shown that 75 percent or moreof burn barrels do not meet burn barrel specifi-cations. Noncompliant burn barrels are subjectto burn permit requirements and burn suspen-sions. Citations may be issued for violations.Penalties may also apply for unsafe burning.—— You are responsible for any fire you set or causeuntil it is “dead out.’”The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Field For-estry Program partners and cooperates with other agencies, organizationsand the private sector to address forest-related needs and questions posedby the public. Extension forestry is currently working with the State Divisionof Forestry, the USDA Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, theAlaska Department of Fish and Game, the USDA Natural Resource Conserva-tion Service, various Soil and Water Conservation districts, a number of pri-vate non-government organizations, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, UAFaffiliates, rural development organizations, community groups and others toprovide information about the management, biology and social interests re-lating to Alaska boreal forest through workshops, newspaper articles, radioand television interviews and more.The following link takes you to a YouTube video fromthe Alaska Department of Natural Resources, SafeBurning Series—Burn Barrels: http://youtu.be/aIU5D-Nb11R8.Industry CornerAs part of the Alaska Wood Energy Conference inApril, I joined a field trip to Superior Pellet Fuels nearNorth Pole, Alaska. SPF showed us the improvementsit has been making in its yard organization and inperfecting its premium-grade pellet, which is sold andused locally in Alaska. Homeowners report about a 50percent savings using wood pellets over using dieselhome heating fuel oil.Superior also showed us its new product — whichis being consumer tested at this time — called the“pellet log.” This compressed fiber wood log may beburned in a standard wood stove; the most efficientstoves work best with this new product. The log isthree inches in diameter and handles well packed andon pallets for easy delivery. Recent reports indicatethis product works well mixed with seasoned firewood and alone as a viable alternative heat source.— Glen HoltNorthern forest industries are encouraged to send in a200-word introduction with their company name, logo,if any, what they do, make or produce, and how theymay be reached by those viewing the e-newsletter.Announcements & ClassifiedsSend in your upcoming forestry presentations, work-shops, seminars and meetings so that we can an-nounce them in this newsletter. All announcementswill be subject to UAF Cooperative Extension Serviceeditorial protocols

Cooperative Extension Service

Contact Information

The Working Forest Group
P.O. Box 240851
Anchorage, Alaska 99524

Erin McLarnon, Interim Executive Director
Phone: 907-250-5890
E-Mail: Erin@AKWorkingForest.org