JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. -- The threat from the Taylor Creek Fire has subsided but the damage it did is visible on Josephine County forestland. Thousands of acres were burned leaving a wake of brown where lush green forests once stood. Now, Josephine County is trying to reclaim as much value from the burnt timber as possible.
Mike Gould is a project foreman working to build the roads trucks need to get the burnt logs out and to the processing facilities. Right now, much of the wood is still usable and valuable.
"We brought our D6 out today to open up a bunch of these old roads," he explains. "There's a full section of land out here and it hasn't had anything done on it since probably since the 60s."
"Now that this timber isn't green and free to grow, it's basically dead at this point," says Josephine County forestry program director Dave Streeter. "You've got a perishable product that's going to start and deteriorate and become worthless over time and sometimes that can be a short period of time."
They're working against the clock to salvage as much as they can. They don't know when the weather will change.
"The pace is daylight till dark," exclaims Gould. "We need to get as much of this out as we can before it rains."
Streeter explains why the rain matters. "Once we get rains in this area with native surface roads, dirt roads, it becomes impossible then to access the area with trucks to be able to transport that material from the woods to the facilities where it's used," he says.
Streeter says they county has already lost around 14 million board feet of timber worth about $5 million dollars in today's market. So they continue to work swiftly to avoid losing any more. It's a race against time and mother nature.