Before (above) about 800 truckloads of timber were harvested in the Manti-La Sal National Forest near the Skyline Coal Mine last year, the dead Engemann spruce presented a significant wildfire threat. After (below) the logging, the dead trees have largely been removed, leaving space for green timber to grow. The Forest Service uses money from such timber sales to plant seedlings, and the temporary logging roads are later removed.

 

Timber sales of dead trees

will help restore the forest

 

By Lyle Fletcher

Staff writer

Feb. 15, 2018

 

MANTI-LA SAL NATIONAL FOREST—With huge quantities of dead trees in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, the Forest Service is conducting timber sales to remove the dead trees and will use the funds to restore the forest.

According to an ETV News story, Sanpete District Ranger Kyle Beagley said, “The vast majority of these dead trees are Engelmann spruce that have been killed by a spruce beetle.”

Mike Scottorn of the Forest Service in Ephraim said, “In the last 14 years, the spruce beetle has caused an estimated 90-percent Engelmann spruce mortality on the northern portion of the Manti-La Sal National Forest. This includes about 70,000 acres in Carbon, Emery, Sanpete and Sevier counties.”

The fact sheet provided by the Forest Service indicates the spruce beetles live and lay their eggs in the layer between the bark and the wood, yet the wood is not harmed even though the bark dies in the process. “If harvested before the tree begins to rot, the timber industry can obtain good, viable, dry logs.”

In short, the window of opportunity for harvesting the dead trees is currently wide open.

Thus, with all the dead wood available that needs to be removed, the Forest Service is conducting timber sales on the Sanpete, Ferron/Price District of the forest.

Timber sales remove the dead Engelmann spruce.

Removing the dead spruce trees can potentially reduce wildfires and enhance wildlife habitat and rangeland for livestock grazing. It also can have desirable effects on the economy.

Not removing the dead spruce trees would leave open two large undesirables: Fallen trees covering the forest floor due to windstorms and lots of dry fuel for potential wildfires, such as the Seeley fire a few years ago.

Also, according to a Forest Service press release, the Forest Service would like the forest composition to be 60-percent spruce, 30-percent subalpine fir and 10-percent other species. Currently, the forest is 5-percent spruce, 85-percent subalpine fir and 10-percent other species.

The administrator of the timber sales, Carl Anderson said, according to the ETV News story, the harvest of dead trees will continue over the next 10-15 years. He estimates the logging of dead Engelmann spruce in 33,500 acres to be 78,000 truckloads of a 1,000 cubic feet per truckload.

Anderson added that the Forest Service has sold lumber from over 5,700 acres which yielded 9,000 truckloads of timber, and he said, “Last year, approximately 800 truckloads of timber came off the forest in one sale near the Skyline Mine.”

Anderson also explains, “The wood is dry when harvested and does not have to wait to dry when brought into the lumberyards. The timber has mainly been sold in Sevier and Sanpete counties. The companies, Satterwhite and Sanpete Firewood and Shavings, shared on video that they are able to use all of the product that is brought to their yards—wood for log homes, firewood, lumber, chips, shavings and sawdust. No waste!”

The 5:30-minute informative video Anderson mentioned is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpB-VHCSOaM.

The revenue from these timber sales is used to restore the forest and is spent on such things as erosion control, collecting seeds, growing seedlings and planting saplings, along with treating the remaining trees and enhancing aspen regeneration.

Beagley commented, “We are experiencing a great partnership with the logging industry. As a forest, we understand that once the dead trees have been harvested, we need to support a base for live or green timber to continue to manage the forest wisely long-term.”

By removing the undesirable dead trees, the Forest Service can then restore the forest with desirable live ones.