Timber value from wildfires

Asked October 8, 2020, 11:29 AM EDT

Hello, I am a property owner in Detroit whom suffered a home loss in the recent fires. I would like a better understanding of the potential timber value of the standing trees on not only my property, but all effected properties in my neighborhood and town. This is why I ask; we have been offered the option of free governmental assurance with cleanup which includes removal of hazardous trees. Though I appreciate that this assistance is being offered, I also question what appears to be signing off all rights to potential timbers values for the community. I understand that an OSU representative visit my neighborhood and estimated that most likely all the trees would need to be removed. I have often gazed at the trees on our property knowing that their timber value could (past tense?) be great considering their condition, but never intended to touch them unless they became an imminent hazard. Unfortunately, I believe the time has come. Individually, our property could not fell these (likely) valuable trees without placing them on neighboring properties or in the NFS land. So, individually I understand that cost of removal for only one property may be considered a net loss. But, what about when a neighborhood of trees must be removed? Are we handing the values of the timber over to some contractors whom will not only be paid to remove them, but also enjoy profit from their timber value? Your thoughts and opinion are highly appreciated.

Marion County Oregon

1 Response

I am so sorry for your losses from the fire. So that I better understand your situation, might I ask which government program has offered to deal with the hazard trees?

Determining which trees are hazard trees and which trees are fire damaged but not necessarily hazard trees is a key step. But regardless of whether the tree is a hazard tree or just a fire damaged tree, the logs from these trees can have significant value, as long as you can get them in sawmill lengths, on a truck that can deliver to the mill. Currently there are some good markets for trees that are not actually burned beneath the bark, but that will change as fire salvage gets underway across so many acres.

The challenge will be finding loggers/tree services available to deal with the complications of small acreage, multiple owners, buildings, powerlines, etc. While aggregated operations can be planned across multiple landowners, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry, each individual property owner who sells trees will have to file a separate notification of operations. And you would need to keep track of which trees are yours going to the buyer.

Please contact me directly via email if you can for continued correspondence so we can discuss more details as they develop. glenn.ahrens@oregonstate.edu

I will be visiting Detroit with several other OSU Extension foresters to look at tree damage and related issues with city officials and residents on October 21. I am hoping to learn more about coordinated efforts to help the community with these issues at the larger scale across property lines.