Ice storm, trees, urgency : Translation

KMorrisD kmorrisd at
Sat Jan 17 20:07:38 EST 1998


I've been trying to get more information from local loggers and mill owners
here in western Massachusetts about how this disaster will affect local
markets.  I have several timber sales in the works that I have temporarily put
on hold for fear of market flooding and consequent reductions in price.

There are several factors at work.  First, it's still very difficult just to
get around in the woods to assess damages because of the ice.  Second, there
are so many branches on the ground that it is very difficult to walk--with a
prism or a chainsaw.  Third, there is a limited number of loggers in the
regions affected.  

There is an even more limited number with mechanized systems that wouldn't be
hindered by all the broken branches.  Sawmills are also limited in their
capacities even if they run double and triple shifts.  But the real limiting
factor is loggers with mechanized systems.  Existing contractual obligations
may affect loggers and sawmills.

So far loggers down here with mechanized systems aren't getting calls to head
north.  They have contracts to honor here and probably wouldn't go unless the
offers are extremely lucrative.
I don't know yet about whether local mills will be buying salvage material from
up north.  They also have contracts to honor, so again it's unlikely unless the
prices are very low.

Furthermore, the damage in the affected areas is apparently uneven.  In other
words, there are some areas where salvage operations may not be necessary. 

For those areas where salvage is necessary, there is a limited amount of time
before warm weather brings insects, bacteria and fungi.  My experience from
last year was that the salvage season for most species will be limited to
roughly mid July.  Mud season will further restrict the time window.   

So I guess the net of all this is that those landowners who are resourceful
enough to organize salvage operations very soon will probably be able to
recover some of their investment value.  Those who are not will just have to
eat the losses.  

Karl Davies
Northampton, MA

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