FORESTS (Historic Information)
Practically all of the merchantable timber of Alaska is embraced within national forest reserves under the administration of the U. S. Forest Bureau. The Tongass National Forest covers the entire southeastern Alaska Archipelago, andthe Chugach National Forest, with a width of about 60 miles, extends along the shores of the Pacific from the Malaspina Glacier to Cook Inlet.
Labor Day at Anchorage, Alaska
The following statements are condensed from the official report of R. S. Kellogg, assistant forester in 1910, the-report of the Governor of Alaska for the fiscal year ending June 31, 1912, and from local sources where they relate to the Fairbanks mining industries.
The total area of the forests and woodlands in the territory is estimated at about 100,000,000 acres, or 156,250 square miles, or 27 per cent of the total area. Of this about 20,000,000 acres, or 31,250 square miles, are estimated as containing timber suitable for manufacturing purposes, or more than the area of South Carolina and nearly that of Maine or Indiana. Of the remaining 80 per cent, or 125,000 square miles, one-half is classed as woodland, carrying some saw timber, but on which the forest trees are of a small size, more scattered and valuable chiefly for fuel; the tree growth on the remainder being stunted, scrubby and valueless- for any purpose except the camp fires of the prospector. The region north of the Endicott mountains, all of the shores of Bering Sea, and the
Alaska Peninsula south of Iliamna Lake, are practically destitute of timber, producing nothing larger than willows of very small growth, and those only in a few localities.
The trees suitable for lumber on the coast region are in point of numbers and value, the western hemlock, the Sitka spruce, western red cedar and yellow or Alaska cedar. The forests are dense and as much as 25,000 feet per acre has been estimated for considerable tracts, of which 20 per cent is spruce, 75 per cent hemlock, and the remainder cedar and other timber trees. The spruce reaches a large size, up to 6 feet in diameter and a height of 150 feet. Diameters of 3 or 4 feet are attained by the cedars. The growth is fairly rapid, spruce logs averaging 32 inches in diameter averaged 262 annual rings; two others 54 inches in diameter showed 525 and 600 rings.
The forests of the interior are practically all included in the drainage basins of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers and are of a more deciduous type, saw .timber being secured from the white spruce and cordwood from the white birch, poplar,-balsam poplar, black cottonwood, and aspen. The timber is small; white spruce and balsam poplar sometimes attain a diameter of 18 to 24 inches; while birch and aspen average about 8 inches, running up to 18 in favorable localities. Other trees are smaller. The white spruce and balsam poplar grow to 75 feet; birch, aspen, and poplar to 50; black spruce from 20 to 40, and tamarack seldom over 30. Twenty-five spruce logs 32 feet long and slightly over n inches in diameter showed an average of 104 annual rings, indicating a growth of one inch in nearly nine years, thus comparing favorably with the growth of red spruce in New York and New England.
The spruce of Southeastern Alaska is used extensively for box material, and is now coming into use for aeroplane frames, furniture, piano backs and oars for racing boats. The great value of this timber is in its use for paper pulp. It is little used for building purposes, due to the competition of Puget Sound timber, which is more suitable for such purposes. In the interior, the timber is used to a greater extent for building purposes, due to the high freight charges. Its principal use throughout the interior is for fuel.
The Alaska spruce, known as the Sitka spruce, has been found to be the most suitable material available for aeroplane frames, due to its toughness and pliability. With the present great demand for this material, the building up of a large and profitable industry is assured. In the spring of 1917 the sawmills in Southeastern Alaska were filling large orders for manufacturers of aeroplanes. The production of paper pulp is attracting attention. The mill at Snettisham made the first shipment of pulp from Alaska during the year.
On the Tongas Forest, during the fiscal year (1919) there were 264 timber sales covering 45,029,680 board feet of saw timber and piling and 41,470,580 board feet cut. On the Chugach there were 112 sales covering 7,034,270 board feet and 3,932,420 board feet cut. There was also cut 4,147,470 feet under "free use." Considerable "free use" is granted annually to settlers, who are privileged to secure what they need for domestic purposes at such points as are most convenient to them.
The Department of Agriculture believes that the development of the forest and water-power resources of Alaska is a practicable means of increasing the supplies of newsprint available for the United States. Under careful management these forests can produce 2,000,000 cords of pulpwood annually for all time. The Alaska forests also contain the water power. The Forest Service estimates the potential horsepower at least a quarter of a million.