Mat-Su is latest Alaska school district to embrace wood-burning for heat

Alaska Gateway School District photo

Su Valley Junior/Senior High School would get access to thousands of acres of nearby forest suitable for logging under a plan to install a wood-fired boiler for its heating needs. The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman says the plan's backers foresee fuel savings for the school, educational and vocational opportunities for students and employment opportunities for Susitna Valley adults.

The project has already secured $830,000 in grants. The idea is to harvest the wood locally, creating jobs both to log the trees and to cut them into half-cord pallets to be delivered to the school. The borough would net something like $7,500 per year from the logging contractor. Su Valley would set up a sustainable harvest schedule, teaching kids at the school about forest management along the way.

Dave Krompacky, a local logger, said he graduated from Su Valley in a class of 13 and there are few job opportunities in the area.

“There’s two of us left in Talkeetna--the rest have moved on,” he said of his graduating class.

Setting up the boiler and the accompanying logging is a step in the right direction.

“We just need to set this land aside for them and let them go,” Krompacky said.

The Alaska Gateway School District put a wood chip-fired boiler into operation in the Tok School in 2010 -- read about that at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Delta High School got one in 2011. Find more about the Su Valley plan at The Frontiersman: Borough sets aside trees to fuel school boiler