U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, right, shakes hands with owner Ray Keenan after touring Rollo Bay Holdings, which specializes in potato producing, marketing, shipping and exporting, in Souris, Prince Edward Island, Canada, on Friday, June 15, 2018. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, right, shakes hands with owner Ray Keenan after touring Rollo Bay Holdings, which specializes in potato producing, marketing, shipping and exporting, in Souris, Prince Edward Island, Canada, on Friday, June 15, 2018. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP)

Secretary of Agriculture to visit Southeast timber industry sites

Murkowski to accompany Sonny Perdue on his first trip to Alaska

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will visit Southeast Alaska on Thursday as part of a “Back to Our Roots” tour of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

It’s the first time Perdue, whose agency oversees the U.S. Forest Service, will visit Alaska. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will accompany Perdue to a roundtable discussion at Prince of Wales, a tour of a Craig lumber company, two tree stands and a Thorne Bay mill.

The secretary’s goal is to learn about Southeast’s forests and its timber industry, said USDA press secretary Meghan Rodgers in a Tuesday interview with the Empire.

“Because the Forest Service is under the USDA, the health of our forests are very important,” Rodgers said. “It’s really important for him to get on the ground and see the land.”

With this Alaska trip, the secretary will have visited 42 states since his appointment in April 2017, Rodgers added. It’ll be his fifth Back to Our Roots tour, during which the secretary has visited with those in the agriculture industry.

In Prince of Wales, Perdue and Murkwoski will sit down with the Prince of Wales Landscape Assessment Team, a group formed to develop a long-term plan for federal lands on the island, the nation’s fourth largest.

A trip to Viking Lumber Company in Klawock will follow. Viking Lumber is one of the largest remaining mills in Southeast Alaska, according to media reports. The company has been critical about rules preventing logging access to old growth timber stands in Southeast. Employees at Viking Lumber weren’t available Tuesday to talk about the trip.

Perdue and Murkowski will meet with USFS Silviculturist Sheila Spores on Thursday afternoon for a visit to an old growth forest near Control Lake, on Prince of Wales. A visit to a remote stand of young growth trees in Thorne Bay will follow.

Lastly, the secretary will meet with the small, family-owned Goose Creek Mill near Thorne Bay.


• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


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