East Texas landowners: Act fast to salvage fire-damaged timber

LUFKIN, Texas — Landowners who depend on harvesting timber for a living can feel devastated when a wildfire sweeps through their forest. But all is not lost — fire-damaged timber can be salvaged if landowners act fast.

Trees still can be harvested, even after they’ve been charred. However, the quality of the wood in the logs deteriorates quickly so it’s important for landowners to remember that time is of the essence, Texas Forest Service and industry officials stressed.

“After fires have gone through, a fair bit of the wood can still be salvageable,” Texas Forest Service Wood Utilization and Marketing Specialist Ed Dougal said, explaining that the logs can be used for lumber and plywood.

“It’s kind of like a hurricane. Some logs get beaten up or broken or destroyed so badly, you really can’t use them in a mill anymore. But there are plenty more that can still be used. It’s the same with a fire. It helps everybody to get them in and get some use out of them rather than letting them go to waste.”

Though the time frame depends on the mill, tree species and weather conditions, it is important to move quickly, Dougal said. For some mills, it also could be helpful to include, if possible, green — or healthy and non-burned — logs in with those that have been burned.

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