Cooperative Forestry, State & Private Forestry - Alaska Region

Wood Heating Improves Forest Health Gardeners pose with plants and wood Kake, AK Woody Biomass Project on KCAW. Vibrant cities lab website.Inside the Forest Service article on Wood Innovations Grant Recipient Icy Straits in Hoonah, AK. Greenhouse and hydroponics in Naukati, Prince of Wales Island

Cooperative Forestry Programs in Alaska


Urban & Community Forestry Program

Trees in our cities and communities provide many benefits, including: improved human health & well-being; reduced stormwater runoff; improved air & water quality; and windbreaks that reduce heating costs from winter winds.

‚ÄčThe USDA Forest Service provides financial and technical assistance to the Alaska Community Forestry program to support local community forestry projects and programs throughout Alaska. The two-person AK State staff and their active & diverse advisory council encourage and support partnerships among Alaskan government agencies, businesses, and volunteers to manage, protect, and improve their community forests. Learn more about the Alaska Community Forestry program, including grant opportunities, publications, upcoming classes, and much more.

Visit the Vibrant Cities Lab website for tools, guides, case studies, and many other resources for planting and caring for trees in cities and communities. 

Want to learn more about the science that drives successful urban and community forestry projects? Visit the Urban Forest Connections website for links to over 50 free recorded webinars. Each webinar features 1-2 scientists who present their urban forestry research, and 1 or 2 arborists or other urban forestry practitioners describe how they have applied that research to real-life situations.

Wood Innovations Program

Woody biomass – parts of trees and woody plants that are the byproducts of forest management – may result from hazardous fuels reduction, insect and disease treatments, ecosystem restoration projects, and many other activities.  Using woody biomass as a bio-energy source promotes energy efficiency, creates family-wage jobs in rural areas, saves money when used for heating, reduces carbon dioxide emissions, and provides a source of renewable, sustainable energy. The Forest Service’s woody biomass and bioenergy program is accomplished through many collaborative partnerships. Please visit the new Alaska Wood Energy Development Task Group website

For the forest landowner/manager, wood utilization for energy can provide opportunities to mitigate the costs associated with pre-commercial thinning, hazardous fuels reduction, forest restoration, and habitat enhancement (moose, deer and salmon are important sources of protein for many rural Alaskans). Wildfires typically consume ~1 million acres of forest land in Alaska each year; in 2004 and 2015 more than 5 million acres were destroyed each year, and recently 2.5 million in 2019. For the forest products industry, wood energy markets can mean new, or more profitable, local opportunities to utilize processing by-products, such as sawdust and bark. For communities, wood-based fuels can save facility operators money, create and sustain local jobs, and reduce local economic leakage (i.e., keep energy dollars in the community). Learn more about the Wood Innovations Program funding opportunities.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Alaska has funded 11 Wood Innovations Grants & 2 Community Wood Energy & Wood Innovations Program grants since 2013 for $1.6 million, addressing biomass and bioenergy issues, with emphasis on creating resilient landscapes and fire adapted communities in Alaska’s Interior. Read this April 2020 USFS News Release about funded projects in Alaska.
  • Alaska Wood-to-Heat community projects: A competitive application program provides selected private, public and not-for-profit applicants with feasibility assessments for heating local facilities with wood. Over 170 assessments have been conducted as of 2020. Many have gone on to apply for and receive funding for engineered designs, construction, or both. Alaska is in the top 10 states for public facility conversion to wood energy.
  • Integrating greenhouses with wood heating systems at rural schools addresses community sustainability & food security goals. Several communities (Tok, Thorne Bay, Coffman Cove, Kasaan, Naukati and Tanana) have incorporated greenhouses (and wood boilers) into science, technology and math classes. Fresh produce, otherwise rare and expensive, is being served as part of school lunch programs, and excess produce is sold in the local community by student-run business enterprises.

Forest Stewardship Program

The Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) of the U.S. Forest Service works in partnership with state forestry agencies, cooperative extension, and conservation districts to connect private landowners with the information and tools they need to manage their forests and woodlands. Actively managed forests provide timber, fuel wood, wildlife habitat, watershed protection, recreational opportunities, and many other benefits. They also benefit adjacent National Forest System lands by creating healthier, more resilient landscapes overall.

FSP also offers resources to help landowners develop a forest management plan (also known as a Forest Stewardship Plan). As a private landowner, you may be concerned about keeping your land productive and healthy now and into the future. You may want to increase its economic value while protecting water and air quality, wildlife habitat, and natural beauty. You can accomplish all these objectives by using a Forest Stewardship Plan to identify your goals for your land and the management activities needed to meet them.


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