As of Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Though last year’s fires hit local forests hard, a quick response from land managers appears poised to spark a short-lived timber boom.
Starting Jan. 4, the Clearwater Forest Industries facility in Kooskia will once again have an operational log yard, where CFI will be buying until salvage efforts slow.
“We will keep the log yard open until this summer or until most of the fire salvage has been cut,” the company noted in an advertisement. “This will help reduce freight cost and be more cost-effective for the landowners than transporting big Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir out of the area.”
On Tuesday, Dec. 22, CFI’s Rodney Krogh told the Free Press the company has no thoughts of reopening the Kooskia mill, which closed about 10 years ago. Rather, CFI will process the logs at its Tamarack Mill facility in New Meadows.
“The market there is competitive and the supply is capped,” Krogh said.
The Idaho Department of Lands has already made the bulk of its salvage arrangements – and they loom large next year, as IDL moves to reap as much sale value as possible from 28,000 acres of state endowment timber land touched by fire last summer. Through 13 sales, the department will salvage 83.5 million board feet of timber killed by fire on state endowment lands, which total $17.5 million. In an annual report released Dec. 15, IDL noted 80 percent of the salvaged timber will come from Idaho County.
Two more IDL salvage sales will be sold in the spring.
IDL reported 65.1 million board feet is to be salvaged in Idaho County, from 4,617 acres burned by the Carrot Ridge, Lolo 2, Woodrat and Tepee Springs fires in August.
IDL also noted the completion of helicopter logging related to the Selway Salvage Sale, which followed the 2014 Johnson Bar Fire, which was opposed in court through a lawsuit over the use of a road east of Lowell. IDL adjusted the sale, and the logging work was completed in November. IDL touted it as netting $635,000 for the public school endowment fund, and for stabilizing the area “to reduce the chance for landslides, protecting waterways in the area.”
Across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, planning has been announced for salvage harvests totaling 866 acres.
Comments due Dec. 28
Comments on the “Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Road, Administrative and Recreation Site Maintenance project” plan are due Dec. 28, and can be e-mailed to email@example.com.
In the Tepee Springs burn area, the Forest Service is planning to salvage 250 acres of dead and dying trees near Chair Point and 250 more acres to be salvaged near Keating Ridge, both of which are generally northeast of Riggins. The Forest Service is also planning for 31 acres to be salvaged within the Deadwood fire perimeter, southeast of Elk City, for 59 acres of salvage within the Boulder fire perimeter north of Powell, and 47 acres within the Big Hill fire perimeter east of Kooskia.
The combined forests are also planning to cut 219 acres of “dead and dying trees infested with insects and disease” near the Deadwood burn area.
The Forest Service’s salvage plans are governed by “categorical exclusions” used for activity that does not have “significant environmental impacts,” but the National Environmental Policy Act also requires federal agencies to consider public input in their decision-making. Comments on the “Nez Perce-Clearwater Fire Recovery Projects” plan are due by Jan. 15, and can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through a separate project, the combined forests are planning to provide “safe and unimpeded access” to federal roads, facilities and recreation sites – which, in addition to routine roadwork, means removing weak trees, dead trees and trees “likely to die that have potential to impact the use of forest roads.” That plan involves 27 road miles where trees would be felled and 114 road miles where trees would be removed – with trees sold to offset the cost of the work.
“This covers approximately half of the miles of system roads affected by the 2015 fires,” Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests spokeswoman Jeannette Dreadfulwater noted on Monday, Dec. 21.