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Increased timber harvest will mean more revenue for Linn County

Increased timber harvest will mean more revenue for Linn County

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A report that the Oregon Department of Forestry’s timber harvest in 2013 topped 4.2 billion board feet, was welcome news for the Linn County Board of Commissioners.

According to the ODF, this was the fourth consecutive year its timber harvest has increased since the recessionary low of 2.7 billion board feet in 2009 and that was reflected in Linn County’s share of State Forest Revenue.

From August 2013 to May 2014, Linn County received payments totaling $2,261,519.

With increased harvest levels, Linn County’s share should increase significantly before the end of the current fiscal year.

“This was the first harvest above four billion board feet in seven years,” said Brandon Kaetzel, ODF principal economist.

He added the increase represents a 12 percent increase over the 2012 harvest of 3.75 billion board feet.

Commissioner Will Tucker said although the county received “significant” payments from the state in the last year tracking timber sales and estimating the county’s share of revenues is a bit tricky.

“Companies can bid to harvest timber from the Santiam State Forest and they have a certain period of time to complete the sale,” Tucker said. “If they don’t get it done in that time period, it goes up for sale again.”

The Santiam State Forest encompasses about 47,000 acres in Linn, Marion and Clackamas counties. It is one of six state forests.

Most of the property that makes up the forest was originally owned by timber companies and it was heavily logged between 1880 and 1930. Many of the timber companies did not reforest the lands and eventually, the properties went into foreclosure for past taxes.

Linn County’s share of the forest was acquired between 1939 and 1949; Marion County’s lands were acquired between 1940 and 1953 and Clackamas County’s lands between 1942 and 1950.

The state added to the forest between 1943 and 1952, purchasing property from private land owners.

“We’ve got some beautiful trees,” Tucker said. “They are from 50 to 90 years old and it’s a prime time for logging.”

Tucker said after harvest, the state keeps a portion of the proceeds and the county splits its share of income with local schools.

The ODF says timber harvest increases can be attributed to a strong export market for logs and a recovery in the domestic market.

The largest increase in harvest came from non-industrialized private forestlands, up 61 percent to 511 million board feet from the 23012 total of 318 million board feet.

“This is most likely due to small forestland owners taking advantage of higher prices as the result of a still strong export market in 2013,” Kaetzel said.

The harvest on industrial forestlands increased from 2.56 billion board feet in 2012 to 2.75 billion board feet in 2013, or 8 percent.

Harvests on Native American forestlands increased 5 percent, to 66 million board feet.

Lane County had the largest combined timber harvest at 619,849,000 board feet, followed by Douglas County with 567,187,000 board feet and Linn County with 312,105,000 board feet.

Benton County harvested 139,670,000 board feet.

Alex Paul is the Linn County reporter for the Democrat-Herald. He can be contacted at 541-812-6114 or alex.paul@lee.net.

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