- Associated Press - Saturday, November 19, 2016

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - Proposed timber sales on Deer Mountain and in Petersburg are on hold as officials consider public comments against the issue.

The Alaska Mental Health Trust board will take up the topic in January, reported the Ketchikan Daily News (https://bit.ly/2g5yLk4).

Every comment on the plan was negative as of Wednesday.

Officials say the delay will give the trust time to consider the public’s input.

The board decided in August to move forward with the sales if a federal land exchange bill failed in Congress by Jan. 15.

“What we had intended to do was initiate our process to backstop the unforeseen circumstance that we might not be successful in our land exchange legislation efforts,” said John Morrison, the land trust office executive director. “Recognizing that, (we attempted) to move quickly to meet the needs of industry and the best interest of the trust in getting some of our viable timber to market while there was a market.”

Officials with the trust have said they prefer an exchange with the Forest Service to get more than 20,000 acres of rural timberland.

Residents have expressed support for the exchange.

“We are getting a broad consensus of success for language to support the exchange, both from the congressional delegation as well as the administration,” Morrison said. “I can’t say much more than that.”

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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