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Timber salvage planned following Idaho wildfire

Officials with the Bureau of Land Management are preparing an environmental assessment as part of a plan to salvage timber burned last summer in a wildfire in west-central Idaho.

BLM officials want to log about 10 million board feet on 940 acres in the John Day drainage burned in the 75-square-mile fire near the town of Lucile, The Lewiston Tribune reported.

Agency spokesman Robin Boyce said the agency is taking public comments and hopes to finish the assessment so the timber can be offered for sale by February.

Besides forestland managed by the BLM, the fire also burned forest managed by the Idaho Department of Lands and the U.S. Forest Service. The area includes ponderosa pine trees that are susceptible to blue staining caused by beetles. Officials say blue staining doesn’t harm the wood but some buyers won’t use it, fearing rot, so the timber should be salvaged quickly before beetles arrive.

“The bugs pack a fungus on their body and the fungus gets in the bole of the tree and that is the blue stain you see,” said Chris Clark, a forester with the Payette Lakes office of the Idaho Department of Lands at McCall. “It only takes a few bugs in a tree to cause the bluing.”

Clark said the state agency has already sold two timber harvest allotments in land the state manages. He said the sales include about 1,600 acres of burned forest that have about 5.3 million board feet on 803 acres with an estimated value of $337,000. The state timber sales are in Wet Gulch and the John Day drainage.

Clark said the agency plans to plant more than 400,000 seedlings on 1,142 acres after the logging is finished.

Boyce said the BLM sale would likely be helped by the state timber sale because of temporary logging roads the state would build. But he said the environmental analysis for the federal timber salvage sale would include the possible need to build temporary logging roads.

Mark Craig, acting ranger of the Salmon River Ranger District with the U.S. Forest Service, said the agency didn’t plan to offer salvage sales on land burned in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests because of the difficulty in getting approval.

“Every salvage sale document in Region One has been litigated,” he said. “With salvage sales you can win by not winning, by delaying.”

He said the Forest Service instead will be looking at salvage efforts along roads and cutting trees that are in danger of falling.



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