Ashland Forest Resiliency Project in Oregon to award 1.8 mmbf timber sale in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest's Ashland Creek watershed to Columbia Helicopters, expects to lose money on contract depending on log prices

Wendy Lisney

Wendy Lisney

LOS ANGELES , August 3, 2012 () –

A timber sale totaling 1.8 million board feet in about 355 acres of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest's Ashland Creek in Oregon will be awarded to Columbia Helicopters Inc., the Mail Tribune reported on Aug. 3.

The decision was made by the Ashland Forest Resiliency (AFR) Project but needs final approval by the Ashland City Council, which is set to vote on the US$1.2 million contract on Aug. 7.

Under the agreement, Columbia will receive $668.50 per 1,000 board feet for timber it harvests during the job, which is expected to start by early October and be completed by mid-November, said Chris Chambers, AFR forest resource specialist, the Mail Tribune reported.

AFR expects to receive less than $500/mbf from any mill it sells the logs to, depending on the price this fall, he said; the amount lost will be covered by the $6.5 million in federal stimulus money the AFR received.

The timber is the byproduct of the AFR project, which has been under way for 10 years in an effort to reduce the risk of wildfires on 7,600 acres of the watershed and allow it to revert back to its natural state, reported the Mail Tribune.

The stewardship program is being jointly undertaken by the city of Ashland, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Lomakatsi Restoration Project.

Lomakatsi has been working since mid-2010 to thin small-diameter trees and brush that have created unnaturally-thick undergrowth, which fuels wildfires, said Chambers.

In this phase of the program, mostly Douglas firs will be removed because they are overtaking the black oaks and sugar and ponderosa pines that once thrived in the area and are more fire-resistant, said Chambers, the Mail Tribune reported.

The trees to be cut will have an average diameter of 13 to 15 inches at 4½ feet off the ground, and the AFR will be responsible for hauling about 500 loads of logs to the chosen mill.

In another part of the forest, Forest Energy Group LLC is harvesting up to 500,000 board feet of timber by mid-August, said Don Hamann, logging operations foreman and a partner in the group, reported the Mail Tribune.

The primary source of this article is the Mail Tribune, Medford, Oregon, on Aug. 3, 2012.


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