DNR: Timber harvest should yield county $1.2 million this year
Wahkiakum County should receive around $1.2 million this year from the harvest of state-managed county trust timberland.
The figure is in line with the $1.26 million the board of commissioners listed in their 2013 county budget.
Eric Wisch, regional manager for the state Department of Natural Resources, and Steve Ogden, district manager, presented an update revenue report on Tuesday.
In 2012, the county received almost $1.89 million, $600,000 over the figure the commissioners expected for 2012.
The major timber sale of the year, Hayduke Sorts, generated more revenue than expected, and the county received $500,000 in compensation for trust timberland that is deemed habitat for endangered marbled murrelets and was transferred to a land conservation program.
Much of that $500,000 went to cover county expenses, said Commissioner Dan Cothren. The county could receive a similar payment this year, depending on how the legislature acts, and if so, the money would likely be pooled with similar payments to Pacific and Skamania county to purchase timberlands for a new trust benefitting the three counties.
The agency will auction another sale similar to Hayduke Sorts, Ogden said. The DNR will call for bids for logging the sale, and it will call for bids from mills for the logs the timber should produce. Estimated value of the timber on the parcel is $1.2 million.
Ogden said the agency has two sales planned for 2014. One is a thinning sale with an estimated value of $327,060 and the other a sale of mature timber valued at $901,776. The estimated values are rough and haven't been updated since last fall, Ogden cautioned.
He added that the price of number two grade Douglas fir saw logs had hovered around $500 per 1,000 board feet for the past year, but lately, it has increased to around $560.
"That's a good sign," he said. "Housing starts are up, and the export market is doing well, too."
In response to a question from Cothren, Wisch said the agency is moving ahead with plans for logging sales which are challenged or could be affected by a suit trying to stop the agency from logging in possible murrelet habitat without completing an environmental impact statement.
Wisch said the logging plans would follow current forest practices.
"We're still planning to move ahead with the sales based on the current management plan," he said. "We want to have a revenue stream for the trust beneficiaries.'