Fire sale: Forest Service offers blackened timber north of New Castle |

Fire sale: Forest Service offers blackened timber north of New Castle

Lynn Burton

Local sawmills are getting a shot at something they don’t get to take a crack at very often these days. It’s 150,000 board feet of Forest Service timber, blackened in the Spring Creek Fire north of New Castle in July.Kent Strong, at K&K Saw Mill near Silt, said there aren’t as many local Forest Service timber sales these days and when there is one, he usually doesn’t bid because nationwide competition is fierce.The Spring Creek sale could be a different matter, because there’s not a lot that can be done with the wood.”You could use it for landscaping ties or firewood,” Strong said. “But that’s pretty much it.”The timber was mechanically harvested along White River National Forest Road 603 after it caught fire and became a safety hazard for firefighters and others, said Dave Silvieus, district ranger for the Rifle Ranger District.Silvieus said the timber is gathered in 10 to 20 stacks along a two-mile stretch of road on the Cline Tops. “There’s a lot of big stuff,” he said.The Forest Service’s appraised value for the timber is $14,900.Strong, whose family has been in the local sawmill business for 100 years, said one reason the wood isn’t worth much is because timber beetles have gotten into it.”They really burrowed into the bark,” he said.Strong expects the 150,000 board feet could yield about 300 cords of firewood.Strong markets logs for log homes nationwide, and also sells “a lot” of firewood locally. The last Forest Service timber sale he won was for a blowdown that knocked over thousands of trees in the Steamboat Springs area.”That one kept me busy for three years,” Strong said.

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