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Storm nails private timber land

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Friday, February 01, 2008

forest.jpg ASTORIA The hurricane-force winds that hit coastal Oregon and Washington in December have long since dissipated, but damage estimates to private and state-owned forests are just now being calculated.

In Clatsop, Tillamook and Columbia counties, 360 million board feet of lumber covering 15,300 acres were knocked down; of that, 100 million board feet in Clatsop County alone is unsalvageable.

Private forestland, including those owned by Weyerhaeuser — the largest private landowner in Clatsop County — took the brunt of the storm: 10,700 estimated acres of blowdown versus 5,200 acres on state and federal lands. Company spokesperson Frank Mendizaba declined to provide numbers. But he did describe the damage, which was also due to heavy flooding, as “significant.”

By mid-January, salvage operations on Weyerhaeuser forestland had begun on a limited basis. In southern Washington, the company was removing fallen trees from agriculture fields and supplying farmers with chipping machines to help with further debris cleanup.

Plan to salvage timber on state lands have yet to be announced. Because of the regional economic benefits and the revenue derived from state timber sales, local governments in Clatsop and Tillamook counties are particularly concerned about whether salvage work will increase or decrease the number of sales in 2008.

A December 2006 storm knocked down about 20 million board feet of timber — $17 million worth of which was salvageable — in the Clatsop County Forest. However, since then the price for softwood framing lumber has fallen more than 7%, a drop that pulls log prices down as well.   


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