Logging

Plum Creek logging 2,000 acres in Lolo Creek in wake of wildfire

2013-12-27T20:00:00Z 2014-08-02T14:57:03Z Plum Creek logging 2,000 acres in Lolo Creek in wake of wildfire missoulian.com

LOLO – The locomotive rumble of flames has been replaced by the growl of chainsaws in the charred hillsides above Lolo Creek.

Of the 10,800 acres that burned last August, about 7,000 belonged to Plum Creek Timber Co. None of that was slated for near-term harvest, but the Lolo Creek Complex of fires changed the schedule.

“Our goal is to wrap up salvage operations by the first of June,” Plum Creek Northwest Regional Vice President Tom Ray said Friday. “We need to get it before the summer heat impacts the standing dead timber. We’re pushing hard to realize all the value we can.”

Company foresters explored the fire zone this fall and divided it into three categories. Areas with light burning, including the places where fire crews set backburns to slow the main fire’s advance, will be left alone. They comprise about a third of Plum Creek’s Lolo Creek land.

Another third burned so hot, even the flame-adapted lodgepole seed cones didn’t survive. Those will be left alone or reseeded by hand over the next two years.

The final third – somewhat more than 2,000 acres – is being cut for merchantable timber. Ray said the fir and larch trees cut there will go to Plum Creek’s Evergreen plywood plant. Spruce and pine logs get trucked to the Columbia Falls lumber mill to become 1-inch boards. Stud-quality logs and mulching treetops have been sold to Tricon Timber in St. Regis.

“As you drive up Lolo Creek and look to the north and see the canyon face along there, a lot of that is Plum Creek, interspersed with private land,” Ray said. “It’s a mosaic up there like most fire areas. The flames picked up in certain areas and laid down in others. The severity of the fire limited some of the operations. Some areas are almost completely consumed.”

***

A considerably smaller logging project has concluded on Shari and Gordon Cooper’s Lolo Creek property. When the fire jumped U.S. Highway 12 and ran northeast, it destroyed two of the three homes on their land. It also scorched most of the tall pines around those homes.

“We’ve sent about 95 trees to Pyramid Mountain Lumber,” Shari Cooper said. “We kept a few for firewood. They’re already burned halfway, right? You’ve got to keep a sense of humor.”

The Coopers’ house was the one that survived the fire almost untouched. A rental house across the driveway burned to the foundation. And the home Gordon’s mother lived in practically vanished.

“We’ve put a new mobile home back where his mother’s house was,” Shari said. “We’ve flattened the ground out and cleaned up the rubble. The rest is going to have to wait until the thaw to hook up the water.”

A road heading north into the hills above the Coopers’ house passes five or six miles of fire devastation. Gordon Cooper hunted the area this fall, but saw very little game.

“We’re adapting to the new normal,” Shari said. “It’s hard when you look out the window and there’s mud everywhere. Every time the snow melts, you still see all the debris.”

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

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(13) Comments

  1. Loggerman
    Report Abuse
    Loggerman - January 03, 2014 7:15 pm
    There isn't much there to salvage??? are you on crack??? For someone who claims to know so much, you really are out of touch. Go take a walk thru the f.s. ground alone and tell me how much is there. If you don't see there is a substantial amount of volume that will go to waste you need glasses. Do you know why it will go to waste? Because of people like you. You folks have made it so difficult for the f.s. to get anything done they wont even try any more, so it will stay there and go to waste, that should make you feel like you are really saving the earth.
  2. Objective observer
    Report Abuse
    Objective observer - December 31, 2013 5:07 am
    So you look at a picture of a forest fire and you thought it was a picture of logging. I didn't lose anything. YOU, however, have apparently lost your mind!
  3. Run - A- Mook
    Report Abuse
    Run - A- Mook - December 29, 2013 10:38 pm
    @O. o. --below--

    If you don't get it. Your lost.
  4. Objective observer
    Report Abuse
    Objective observer - December 29, 2013 2:08 am
    Hey Run, you want to explain your ridiculous comment? We're waiting.
  5. Run - A- Mook
    Report Abuse
    Run - A- Mook - December 28, 2013 9:51 pm
    @O. o.

    {Roll eyes}
  6. Run - A- Mook
    Report Abuse
    Run - A- Mook - December 28, 2013 7:32 pm
    @Matt --below--

    "You boys", Yes I fit that gender and I think letsroll does also. I can't say
    one way or the other for Mt_Mama?

    Yes we realized, most of the acres burned, belong to Plum Creek. Anyway
    I did. Also I read the article and knew it was Plum Creek, who was doing
    the logging.

    letsroll said, "The F. S. will salvage nothing."
    I said, " When I first............................................Logging!!"

    Per letrall. How much of those 1,957 acres will the F. S. salvage?
    (In the next 5 years or so.)

    Me, The F. S. has done a pi.. poor job of salvaging the dead and
    dying timber on F. S. land. A lot of it ends like this from controlled
    burns, not all but a lot. This would be a good example of a
    controlled burn gone bad. No more, no less.
  7. Yz250
    Report Abuse
    Yz250 - December 28, 2013 6:57 pm
    Totally agree, look at what happened in the bitterroot in 2000. There was thousands upon thousands of acres that could have been logged and reseeded and could have put a lot of people to work and could have had an abundance wood, which would have driven prices down. And would have had a healthier forest. The way I see it, everybody would have won. But the enviros tied it up in court and now all we have is a bunch of falling down fuel for the next fire.
  8. letsroll
    Report Abuse
    letsroll - December 28, 2013 4:45 pm
    That is nice for you Matthew. You can save your money and throw a monkey wrench into the next one. right?
  9. Objective observer
    Report Abuse
    Objective observer - December 28, 2013 3:23 pm
    When you first saw the picture above (of the fire) you thought that the USFS was logging? That explains a lot about you Run.
  10. Matthew Koehler
    Report Abuse
    Matthew Koehler - December 28, 2013 2:23 pm
    You boys do realize that the vast majority of the acres burned in the fire belonged to Plum Creek Timber Company, right? And that 82% of the entire burned area was Plum Creek Timber Co land, State Land or other private land, right?

    And you do realize that of the 10,902 acres burned in the fire, only 1,957 (or less than 18%) is public U.S. Forest Service land, right? And that some of that U.S. Forest Service is tree-less grassland, right? And that some of the U.S. Forest Service land burned in the fire had already been logged previously, meaning there isn't much there to "salvage" anyway, right?

    And you do realize that according to the Lolo National Forest's official BAER Report:

    Burn Severity (acres/%):
    unburned/very low (1,776/16%);
    low (5,241/48%);
    moderate (3,600/33%);
    high (286/3%)
  11. MT_Mama
    Report Abuse
    MT_Mama - December 28, 2013 1:48 pm
    The USFS would probably love to salvage some of it, but the extremist groups keep every timber sale tied up in court for years.
  12. Run - A- Mook
    Report Abuse
    Run - A- Mook - December 28, 2013 11:30 am
    When I first saw the picture, That's what I thought
    the F.S. was doing. Logging!!
  13. letsroll
    Report Abuse
    letsroll - December 28, 2013 8:49 am
    The F.S. will salvage nothing.
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