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Smith Releases Progress Report on Biscuit Fire Recovery

Nearly $140 million in timber value may be lost

along with hopes of reforestation


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) released a Forest Service report detailing the economic and ecological costs of delay in post-fire projects on the Biscuit Fire area.  The report was issued in response to a request Senator Smith included in the Fiscal Year 2006 Interior Appropriations bill.

“The harvest of fire-killed wood creates both jobs and funds for habitat restoration,” Smith said.  “Delay and decay have robbed Oregonians of both.”

The complete report is available upon request. 

In its report, the Forest Service found that delays and cancellation of timber sales may cause the loss of up to $140 million in commercial value of fire-killed timber proposed for harvest.  To date, 42 percent of viable fire-killed wood volume has been lost due to deterioration.  Decay and resulting volume reductions continue to reduce its value.  The Forest Service cited lawsuits as a primary factor in timber loss and stated that lack of funds generated through salvage have caused delays and reductions in reforestation, habitat restoration, and fuel treatments.

“It has been almost four years since the Biscuit Fire and every day we waste more opportunities to create jobs while helping the environment,” Smith said.  “The success radicals have had in delaying so modest a project bodes very ill for future recovery efforts.  We need to fundamentally change the way we restore our forests after catastrophic fires.” 

The Biscuit Fire burned nearly 500,000 acres of southwestern Oregon in 2002.  In its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Forest Service had proposed harvesting on 18,935 acres (3.7%) of the Biscuit Fire area.  To date, roughly .7 percent of the Biscuit Fire area has been salvaged.

Senator Smith is the author of the Forests for Future Generations Act (S. 2079) to speed the recovery response to catastrophic wildfires.






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