A forest road on Kupreanof Island near Petersburg (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

The U.S. Forest Service plans to offer more small and micro timber sales this summer on the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.

The agency this week announced its plans to sell timber to small sawmills for the remainder of the federal fiscal year, which ends in September. That’s to create economic opportunity in the region.

“It’s just going to be a consistent continuation of support for local small niche markets and small operators in our scattered and diverse rural economy and in communities,” said Dave Harris, outgoing director of forest management for the Forest Service in Alaska.

Harris estimates the program averages total sales of around three to five million board feet a year on the Tongass. The Forest Service says this small sale program aligns with the Biden Administration’s Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy. That included a goal of halting large-scale logging of old growth on the largest national forest in the country.

Two small sales totaling around one million board feet will be put up for sale on Prince of Wales Island near, Craig, Thorne Bay and Coffman Cove. There’s a micro sale for 10,000 board feet on the Wrangell Ranger District and about 120,000 board feet to be offered near Petersburg and Kake. Further north, the agency plans to sell a mixture of young growth and old growth wood totaling more than half a million board feet near Hoonah and Sitka.

“There’s always a little bit more demand over on Prince of Wales than there is around Wrangell and Petersburg and there’s always a consistent, a relatively consistent demand up around Hoonah, Sitka,” Harris said. “And so we’re basically putting out a consistent program for those particular areas.”

The agency also plans to offer wood for Alaska Native cultural uses, like totem poles and canoes. In this case that will be near Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island.