Thousands of trees burned in Woodhead Fire harvested quickly to help fund Idaho schools
(McCall, Idaho) Trees blackened by the Woodhead Fire near Council, Idaho still have value in the timber market, but not for long. That’s why Idaho Department of Lands forestry staff began evaluating the potential for selling the burned trees as salvage sales even before the fire was contained. Logging is already underway in the snow-covered area and began in late October.
The Woodhead Fire started September 7, 2020 near Highway 71, northwest of Cambridge, Idaho, near Brownlee Reservoir on Idaho Endowment Land. Within a few days, the fire had grown toward Council, ultimately burning nearly 100-thousand acres.
About 20,000 acres of Idaho Endowment Land was impacted by the fire. These are lands where trees are grown to eventually harvest to generate funds for Idaho schools and other beneficiaries and provide renewable forest products.
“Many of these endowment trees were sold for harvest prior to the Woodhead Fire, but the harvest was not finished before the fire hit,” said Luke Pate, Idaho Department of Lands Forester in the Payette Lakes Supervisory Area. “This was a devastating fire, but instead of letting these trees go to waste, we have modified three timber contracts to account for the burned timber, and there are additional new sales for other burned trees.”
“Where we first started the salvage work it was sad. Just total devastation as far as you could see, there wasn’t a green needle, a green blade of grass, there was nothing,” said Joe Mahon with Tom Mahon Logging.
While the damaged trees are not as valuable as green trees, revenue from the harvests in the area are still expected to generate $2.1 million for endowment beneficiaries. Idaho Department of Lands salvage timber sales in the area will continue for the next couple of years. Reforestation and monitoring of the area for additional damage will be ongoing.
On Forest Service lands within the Woodhead Fire area, the Payette National Forest is working with Idaho Department of Lands through the Good Neighbor Authority partnership on planning salvage and timber sales to capture timber value and promote forest health in the area.