Ketchikan, Alaska (KINY) - With deer hunting activity increasing in the region, the Alaska Division of Forestry and Fire Protection is reminding the public about vehicle restrictions on Vallenar Bay Road on Gravina Island near Ketchikan.
The road is currently restricted to commercial and administrative traffic associated with active timber harvest operations. The public is discouraged from using the road during periods of road construction, log hauling, cutting, or logging occurring on or near the road, to protect public safety, equipment, and timber value.
Restrictions are intended to help ensure the safety of both the public and a contractor conducting timber harvests associated with the Vallenar Bay Good Neighbor Authority Timber Sale in the Tongass National Forest and Southeast State Forest, as well as a timber sale on University of Alaska lands on the north end of Gravina Island, said Greg Staunton, the division’s Ketchikan Area Forester. Logging trucks have limited maneuverability on the narrow, one-lane road and encounters with public traffic pose a risk to all involved.
Log trucks on the road have the right of way. Parking vehicles in the turnouts is not appropriate as it hinders the ability of traffic to pass. Pedestrian use of the road is not restricted but activity around operations is strongly discouraged for everyone’s safety. The old Lewis Reef sawmill at the start of the Vallenar Road has concentrated traffic with poor visibility at times. Hazards exist as well near timber falling and logging operations and should be avoided.
The Vallenar Bay Road was built in 2016-18 to provide access for timber harvest and to accommodate coordinated commercial forest traffic. It is a one-lane road approximately 8 miles long, beginning at the old sawmill area at the Gravina Island Industrial Complex. The road system is accessed by the Ketchikan Airport ferry.
The timber sale area includes approximately 481 acres in multiple units of young- and old-growth timber on the north end of Gravina Island, approximately 5 miles west of the Ketchikan International Airport. The division is administering a portion of the sale under the Good Neighbor Authority for the U.S. Forest Service. Alcan Timber Inc. bought the timber offered in the sale in February 2019.
Specific sections of Vallenar Bay Road or spur roads connecting to it may be physically blocked to traffic with limited advance notice. Local businesses and property owners must coordinate with the division and Alcan Timber, Inc. before they use the road.
Signs conveying traffic restrictions are posted at the start of Vallenar Bay Road.