Commissioners Push Plan to Salvage Burned Trees

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, August 13 2013 at 5:30 PM, Updated: Tue, August 13 2013 at 6:58 PM

Some local counties are bracing for a financial hit from this fire season.

Even though the fires are far from out, commissioners in Jackson, Douglas and Josephine counties are hard at work trying to lessen the blow.

Wildfires have ravaged thousands of acres of forests. Some of it, designated as federal timber land. They're portions of forest set aside for counties.

"Whenever there's timber harvests on federal land, the county [...] receives 50% of the receipts," said Jackson County Commissioner John Rachor.

But now that whole swaths of forest are getting burned up, county commissioners are wringing their hands, looking ahead and coming up with a plan.

"As soon as these fires are out we need to work on salvaging this timber while it's still merchantable timber. And then we need to start a reforestation program in those lands that are burned," said Commissioner Rachor. 

He said it needs to happen quick since in a couple years the dead trees would have no value. According to Rachor, if the dead trees are left standing...

"One of the problems is that some of those dead trees are what these recent lightning fires are striking now."

However, not everyone is on board with the plan.

"When you get in there, you mechanically disturb things, you add insult to injury," said environmentalist Bob Palzer.

Over at Southern Oregon University, Environmental Studies Professor Greg Jones said there is a middle ground. He said what's important is there's material left-over to help restore the eco-system.

"I think there is a happy balance in there somewhere," began Jones.

"We just need to be very careful about how we extract that material."

But figuring out just how many dead trees to harvest would take more studies and that means more time.

For now, Commissioner John Rachor has contacted U.S. Senators and Representatives hoping they'll help get federal restrictions to ease up.

Professor Jones said the idea of harvesting some trees, then replanting is a good one so long as loggers don't take too much...and getting the details on how much is too much? That's not something can be rushed.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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