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Herald and News April 13, 2006
Timber firms still seeking Biscuit fire logs
MEDFORD - Four years after the giant Biscuit fire, timber companies remain interested in logging trees it killed.
But both loggers and the U>S> Forest Service say the end of the salvage is near, given the deterioration of timber in the Siskiyou portion of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
"We are interested in the volume. We need the wood," said Steve Swanson, president of Swanson Group Inc. in Glendale. "Without a doubt the quality and value of that wood has diminished," he said. "And it's not going to get any better. The chance of a viable sale diminishes every single day."
Darrel Bonde, timber manager for South Coast Lumber Co. of Brookings, said the two planned salvage sales this year "will be the last shot at anything. It'll all be gone after this summer."
Forest officials say no date has been set for timber auctions. The logs would be harvested by helicopter to reduce soil damage.
The sales would be in areas designated as roadless. Environmentalists say any salvage harms the natural recovery after a fire and is not economically justifiable. An Ashland group, the Oxygen Collective, says it will use a 40-foot boidiesel bus to canvas Western Oregon beginning next week to protest against salvage logging in roadless areas.
"The vast majority of the American public fully support protecting roadless areas," said spokesman Stuart O'Neill said. With the Bush administration pushing going into the roadless areas, this is touching a nerve."
The Biscuit was the nation's largest fire in 2002. It spread over an area covering some 500,000 acres. It burned in a mosaic pattern, leaving roughly 100,000 acres largely unburned.
The agency decided to salvage 370 million board feet, but less than 60 million has been cut.
"My expectation is this would be the final year of salvage," said Rob Shull, the forest's timber and planning staff officer. But he left open the possibility of more salvage if sound trees are found.
Because logging by helicopter is expensive, the timber would have to be in good shape, said David Schott, executive vice president of the Southern Oregon Timber Industries Association.
Any timber salvaged now from the fire would have to be kiln dried to kill any insects, he said.
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