MAT-SU— Tuesday night the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly unanimously adopted the Asset Management Plan: Natural Resource Management Units. This 750-page document provides for the multiple-use management of various natural resources on 167,000 acres, which is nearly half of the land owned by the Borough.
Deputy Mayor Lynne Woods was especially pleased with the science behind the plan. “This Natural Resource Management Plan is a 21st century tool that values all uses of the forest,” Woods said.
Many of the plan’s 22 management units are in Assembly Member Vern Halter’s area of representation, district 7. Halter made a few successful amendments, which include a preference for Borough residents and an additional section that provides for multiple areas for personal use of firewood. Halter also added a new goal to the plan that would “reserve” areas in four units for the Su Valley Jr./Sr. High Wood-Fired Boiler project, if the project goes forward.
“The wood-fired boiler project may be the best project the Borough has ever done in terms of science and education,” Halter said.
The natural resources and uses identified include: forest management, fish & wildlife habitat, transportation, public recreation, tourism, water resources, rock, sand & gravel, among others.
Extensive feedback from the public and collaboration with state agencies, local boards and councils are incorporated into the plan. Three years in the making, the plan includes a thorough scientific and technical inventory of Borough-owned land including acreage with timber.
The plan addresses how best to use and protect the multiple-use values of various natural resources of borough-owned blocks of land by establishing, goals, management intent, land use designations, classifications, and guidelines. In the plan, 22 Natural Resource Management Units reflect such multiple-use principles. These units are located along the Glenn and Parks Highways, off Petersville, Oilwell and Montana Creek Roads and along the Alaska Railroad mainline.
Consultant Ron Swanson of, RWS Consulting, gave a brief overview to the Borough Assembly. “This Plan will ensure that the uses of the land and natural resources occur in a responsible manner, reflecting interests of both present and future users. The goals, management intent, land use designations, and guidelines developed in this plan will provide the land and resource managers the tools to manage all the various resources in a compatible manner and to avoid conflicts when and where possible,” Swanson said.
A section within this Asset Plan is the newly revised Forest Management Plan, which was originally adopted 20 years ago. In 2005, the Borough Assembly placed a moratorium on timber sales in response to public concerns about how Borough-owned timber resources were managed and sales were conducted. In 2007, a section in Borough code was adopted dealing with Forest Management. The Forest Management Chapter in this new Plan complies with the adopted Borough code, provides the tools and guidelines on how to manage the forest resources, manage timber harvests, and includes accommodating household needs for firewood.
Within the 167,000 acres of Borough land in the plan, about 53,000 acres could be used for forest management and various types of timber harvest. Of that, 400-600 acres would be available annually for sustainable timber harvests.
When the public comment period ended in March, 2010, 82 people and groups had submitted some 380 comments, concerns, and issues. These issues were summarized, and appropriate changes were made to the plan.
The plan does not establish allocation of resources for specific projects.
The new Asset Management Plan; Natural Resource Management Units is now part of the Borough’s Comprehensive Plan.
The plan can be downloaded on the Land Management web page of the Borough site at http://www.matsugov.us