The state Division of Forestry office in Fairbanks plans to add a third timber sale to this year’s schedule, due to strong demand for firewood and other locally harvested wood products. But Forestry won’t be able to offer many more timber sales for areas that’ve been burned-over by wildfire, because not much acreage has burned in the Interior over the past three fire seasons.
Resource Forester Kevin Meany says for the past three years, the Forestry Division’s Fairbanks office has been conducting two timber sales per year, one in in Fairbanks and Delta Junction. But he says this year, the office is planning another sale for early November.
“We try, at a minimum to do one in Fairbanks and one in Delta a year,” he said. “This year, we’re going to be doing another Fairbanks (sale), so we’ll actually get three auctions in.”
Meany manages the timber-sales program for the Fairbanks Forestry office. He says the most recent auction was held earlier this month in Delta for areas off the Pogo Mine road blackened by a 2013 wildfire.
“The Delta auction that we just had last week was some units left over from the Mississippi Fire,” he said.
The sale brought in just over $90,000 for the state. It included both saw logs, which are used for construction – and salvage timber, so-called because it’s wood that’s been harvested from areas burned-over by wildfire.
“I’m trying to focus on that, because the demands for firewood have been increasing,” he said. “So, we are trying to do a lot of these salvage sales.”
The previous salvage-firewood sale was held in March for areas around Salcha that were damaged not by fire – but rather, by floodwaters.
“In Salcha, on the Tanana River, there are these large group of islands that have kind of been flooded-out over time,” he said.
Meany says that sale earned just over $97,000 for the state. He says more salvage timber will be offered in the November auction for areas south of Fairbanks in the other direction, off the Parks Highway.
“It’s going to be primarily a Fairbanks-focused sale, down the Parks Highway between Fairbanks and Skinny Dick’s,” he said, referring to the roadhouse located about halfway between Fairbanks and Nenana. He says timber offered during the sale “will be mostly firewood.”
Meany says it’s likely that Forestry will have to return to holding two timber sales in the Interior next year, because the past few paltry fire seasons have left the region with much less burned-over acreage.
“We’ve have three consecutive very slow fire years, and so there may not be that much more new salvage opportunity,” he said.
Meany says Forestry will issue information in the next few weeks about the November sale, as soon as he finishes a forest land-use plan for areas that’ll be included in the sale.