GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Josephine County owns 30,000 acres in Oregon and so far, 11% of that land has burned in the wildfires. County officials aren’t wasting any time; in fact, they’ve already begun logging some of the burnt timber.
“We started with the highest burn area we had and that is up in the Cords Creek area and we are going to go through there,” Josephine County Forest Manager, Vic Harris, explained. “Not much survived that fire so we are going to be taking all those trees out. Our first priority was just to get the most severely damaged trees.”
Josephine County is selling the burnt timber to private contractors. They have sold 90 acres so far. The timber on that property is worth more than $200,000 dollars.
“We’re trying to get all the timber logged and we don’t have many resources to do it ourselves so we are going to have to contract out 99% of the timber sales that have been burned,” Harris added.
The county does log the land they own throughout the year, but this year they plan on doing it in mass quantity because it’s a race against the clock.
“After a fire goes through and the tree is dead doesn’t mean it’s not any good, so the wood is still good inside the tree but the bugs and diseases come through and ruin the wood so we have to get it out fast.”
The revenue from the timber sales goes directly into a general fund for Josephine County.
“Typically when you get 100,000 to 400,000 that is excess revenue from the Forestry Department it is a good thing to fill in our budget,” County Commissioner, Cherryl Walker, said.
From there the county commissioners divide out the funds to different departments, including the Public Safety Department.
Walker says even though the funding does help, it’s still not enough.
“When you are looking at a ratio, say we get 200 to 300,000 from our forest lands and we need 4 million to operate the jail it certainly is not a lot of money but it certainly helps,” Walker said.
Josephine County will have to wait at least a year for the timber funding to come through. The timber revenue will be added to their annual budget.