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Herald and News: Forest Service Scales Back Burned Timber Sale

After two failed attempts to sell 26-million-board-feet of timber on a portion of Forest Service lands burned by the 2012 Barry Point Fire, the Fremont-Winema National Forest is offering a smaller, new sale.

Amanda McAdams, district ranger for the Forest’s Lakeview and Bly ranger districts, said the sale is for 5 million board feet (MMFB) with an option for the remaining 21 MMBF. She said it’s hoped the timber sale purchaser will determine the optional acres include trees with commercial value.

The two previous sale offerings, last September and December, failed in part because of concerns by potential buyers the fire-damaged trees had insect damage and could be used only for biomass, not for commercial lumber.

“We’re very disappointed it hasn’t sold,” McAdams said of the two unsuccessful sales.

The first sale was offered to Collins Products, which operates the Lakeview mill, through the Forest’s stewardship program. The second sale was open to all bidders, but no bids were received. If successful, the sales would have removed about 26 MMBF, including hazard trees along Forest roads and trees within a 1,200-foot corridor of roads. That harvest would have represented less than 9 percent of the Fremont-Winema lands burned by the fire.

Lee Fledderjohann, the

Lakeview sawmill’s resource manager, previously said timber harvested from its own and about 1,600 acres of Modoc National Forest lands late last year was losing its commercial value faster than expected because of insect damage. Lumber with a blue stain loses about half its commercial value while logs with bug damage have little value. Fire damaged trees typically retain their value for dimensional lumber for about a year.

In addition, Fledderjohann said Collins harvested enough timber, about 50 MMBF, to supply the mill with enough timber to last through this winter.

During peak logging periods, log trucks were arriving at the Lakeview mill every 4-1/2 minutes, with the mill having a maximum capacity of handling 148 loads a day. Fledderjohann said the volume of log trucks was later halved before completion earlier this year.

Although disappointed that Collins did not bid on the previous sales, McAdams said the company and Fremont-Winema still have a close working relationship.

“Collins and the Forest Service are still great partners,” she said. “We’re going to continue to work with Collins and the stewardship group to make future decisions.”

McAdams said Fremont-Winema managers were originally focused on providing enough timber to sustain the local economy, not on removing fire-damaged trees along roads. Roads within the Barry Point Fire area are important for forest restoration efforts and to provide access for hunters, other recreational users, private in-holdings and fire crews.

“We’re paying attention,” she said of forest fire concerns. “The drought is real.”

Along with salvage timber sales, McAdams emphasized the Forest is focused on its green timber program, which includes tree thinning and harvesting trees with commercial value.

“Our focus is on the green program,” McAdams said. “As a district and as a Forest, our focus is on the future, not the past.”

Future goals include offering larger timber sales, thinning and other forest restoration projects, and stream restoration work, including installing culverts for fish passage and managing riparian areas to ensure stream flows and water temperatures favorable to fish.

“We’re doing the best with what’s happened in the past — and we’re excited about the future,” McAdams said.

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