20 Dec Timber Update: Salvage Timber and Regulations
December 20, 2021
The Freres Timber Department had an extremely busy year after the September 2020 wildfires swept our timberlands. We have incurred the biggest salvage timber operation in company history, along with trying to buy timber sales in a very competitive market for our future needs.
This entire year we focused on processing a significant amount of burnt timber off our timberlands, local landowners, and “salvage” timber sales that we purchased at auction. Our harvest of catastrophically damaged timber has amounted to 53 mmbf (million board feet) off Freres timberlands, 20 mmbf from “open market” logs and 45 mmbf purchased off federal lands. Burned, dead logs must be salvaged quickly or they lose their economic value. We have already seen deterioration from sun-checked logs and bug damage.
As the year ends, we are now faced with conservation groups and judges halting federal harvest plans on the Willamette National Forest in burned areas, there are new legislative changes to the State Forest Practice Laws regarding expanded buffers for streams and new standards for forest roads regarding road design, maintenance, culvert replacement and fish migration known as the Private Forest Accord. There is also a new proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HPA) on Oregon Department of Forestry lands that will reduce future timber supplies even further.
We have six full-time logging contractors and four timber falling contractors working on burned salvage timber sales until we get snowed out for the winter. I must commend them all for what they have done to help us – dealing with the incredible choking black dust all summer, the added maintenance cost, long hours, and our constant changing of plans due to many variables that affect cutting, logging, trucking, log flow and log inventories.
Our road crew will plow snow daily as long as we can to access our units during the winter. After 14 months we are very close to finishing the harvesting of all salvageable timber from our properties. We will have a few cleanup areas to take care of in 2022 to be fully finished.
Post-fire salvage, we have planted 2.4 million seedlings this year, an incredible amount when we usually plant less than 500,000. Our crews also burned 3,500 piles of slash accumulated after harvesting.
Log prices are increasing weekly due to log inventories, low snow levels and the sheer lack of open market log availability.
Todd Parker, Timber Manager