Clackamas County loses $526K in timber due to wildfires
Clackamas County is estimating that it lost more than 450 acres of wood from five different parcels of county-owned working forests that were hit by wildfires this month.
According to the county's department of business and community services, the Riverside and Beachie Creek Fires scorched a combined 13% of forests owned by Clackamas County. Those assets represent a $526,000 loss, plus an additional $117,000 expense to replace those trees over the next two years.
But Laura Zentner, director of DCBS, and County Forester Andrew Dobmeier, told the Clackamas Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday that they're hopeful some areas which weren't completely burned still hold trees the county can harvest and salvage to recoup as much as $320,000 in losses.
"Now that the fires have passed through our forest lands, time is going to be of the essence for us to salvage as much timber as possible," Zentner said. "We can lose more than 50% of our salvageable volume in the next six months if we don't move quickly to harvest and salvage the burned logs."
Clackamas County owns and manages more than 3,200 acres of forestland scattered throughout the county. Five of the county's parcels totalling more than 450 acres were hit by fire including the Clackamas Quarry, Elwood Quarry, Family Camp, Hoopes Road and Hillock Burn properties. The largest of those is the Hillock Burn at 195 acres, Dobmier said, and it's the parcel where the county is hopeful that harvest and salvage efforts will be most successful.
"There was a variable amount of burning. In some places it burned really hot and clean, other places it was a dirty burn, which means basically that it dried everything out but didn't really burn things," Dobmeier said. "The goal is to go ahead and salvage-log whatever we can."
Dobmeier told the commissioners that some of the stand of trees that remains will need to be harvested immediately as they won't make it through until next summer, meaning that moving quickly to hire a contractor is the department's primary objective at this time.
"We're trying to get a contractor lined up as quickly as possible because we're competing with everyone else that's trying to get their wood out, so the contractors are going to be really slim," he said.
According to Dobmeier, his office is already planning reforestation efforts for this winter and has reserved about 75,000 tree saplings for replanting.
In 2017, the county estimated that it had about 30.7 million board feet of lumber standing in its forests. Domeier did not provide an estimate of how the fires affected the county's timber volume.
Each year the county harvests apprxoimately 1.8% of its timber stock for revenue. According to the adopted budget for 2020-21, the county expected to earn $280,000 from timber sales this current fiscal year.
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