Sec. Zinke: Greater U.S. Timberland Harvests Ahead
At a cabinet meeting with President Trump last week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke provided an update on the wildfires occurring in the west (particularly California) and provided his insight into the issues that have contributed to the widespread nature of these fires.
At the time of the meeting, Zinke indicated that 30,000 fire fighters are focused on combatting these wildfires. He attributes the fire intensity to increases in forest density and fuel loads (dead and dying timber) that feed these fires, which he blames on decades of “gross mismanagement.” Already, 5.7 million acres of public timberlands have been destroyed by forest fires this year, costing taxpayers over $3 billion.
Zinke said his department is committed to using “sound science and best practices” to establish “sound active management” of forests on U.S. federal lands. Responding to Trump, Zinke points out that there are “billions of board feet that are on the forest floor rotting.” He argues this doesn’t make sense at a time when housing prices are rising due to high lumber prices and the U.S. is left to import lumber from Canada to meet the current demand.
Going forward, the Dept. of the Interior will be working closely with the Dept. of Agriculture to open up more U.S. federal lands for timber harvests. There will be a focus on salvaging merchantable timber from areas affected by wildfires, as well as going in and selectively harvesting more dead and dying timber.
This increase in domestic sources of logs is good news for all lumber producers and consumers downstream. To view all of Zinke’s comments in context, view the video below: