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Tornado Recovery FAQs


 

 - What do I need to do after my timberland have been salvaged? Don't see what you're looking for? Then ask our foresters!

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 - Can I get my damaged timber salvaged?
- How long do I have to salvage my damaged timber?
- Is there any financial assistance available to help replant my timber?
- Why are timber prices so low?
- A tree service says the trees in my yard are damaged and they need trimming. Is this true?
- A logger has salvaged my timber, how do I go about getting it replanted?
- A logger has salvaged my timber and pushed the debris that was left into large piles. What  do I need to do to burn these piles?
- If I don’t clean up my damaged timber, will beetles get in my undamaged timber?
- I had several trees that had to be removed from my yard. What type tree should I replace them with?
- I have several large trees down in my yard and no logger seems interested in them, what should I do?

 

 

 

 - What do I need to do after my timberland have been salvaged?

 First, you will need to find a registered forester to evaluate your property to see what it will take to prepare the area for reforestation. In some cases, little to no site preparation will need to be done. However, with storm damage there is a high probability the site will need to be prepared before replanting.
There are several methods of preparing a site for reforestation. Two of the most common methods used are chemical and mechanical site preparation. Chemicals are applied either by some type of ground equipment or aerial. Some mechanical methods include root raking, windrowing or piling, shearing and drum chopping. Both methods can also be used together. For example, you may need to chemically treat an area using a helicopter and drum chopping the standing dead vegetation afterwards. Your forester can help you determine what you will need to do. More information can be found on the Alabama Forestry Commission website www.forestry.alabama.gov .

Second, you and your forester should discuss the best species of tree to replant in the area to achieve your primary objective. Whether its timber production or wildlife management, your primary objective and soil type in the area will dictate what species should be planted and the appropriate stocking levels to use. You should also consider terrain of the property (slope), accessibility to the area (road system and access points), size and shape of stand (timbered acreage vs. wildlife openings), and rotation length (pine or hardwood) when making these decisions.

Lastly, evaluating and monitoring the stand after the reforestation is complete. Insect and disease infestations can devastate a stand of timber if left unchecked. Invasive plant species have also been known to restrict the growth to trees as well. At a minimum, you or your forester should annually check the stand to insure maximum growth to your trees with minimum disturbances. Your forester can also help you determine if any Timber Stand Improvements (TSI) will need to be done during the life of the stand. More information can be found on the Alabama Forestry Commission website www.forestry.alabama.gov .

- Can I get my damaged timber salvaged?

Yes it is possible to salvage timber that has been damaged by weather events. However, given the nature of this timber harvest, a few items dealing with the operation need to be addressed. These will be listed below and please get a logger/timber buyer list from our web site www.forestry.alabama.gov .

The ideal time to harvest damaged timber is soon after the damage has occurred. Blown over timber will decay when the root system had been damaged or separated from the tree. The rate of decay is a function of weather conditions and location of the timber (mountaintop vs. swamp bottom). The longer the timber has to dry out, the greater the risk of pine beetle or other boring insect infestation. Bug damaged timber is worth less if it is marketable at all.

The timber will sell for less due to the storm damage. When the tree was blown over, snapped off, etc., the fibers in the wood broke as well. This decreased the structural properties of any lumber that could be made from the wood. As a result, this has led to almost all mills not offering sawtimber prices for storm damaged logs. These logs, large or small, will be bought and used for pulpwood. A quarterly average price list can be seen at www.tmart-south.com/prices.

Due to the increase in timber going to the mill from storm harvesting, expect the price to be slightly less than the quarterly average for softwood products. Also, due to an increase in wood coming in, some mills may limit a logger or a particular logging site to a load limit per day. The price average list is intended for information purposes only, just to give you a ballpark idea of what timber in the different product classes is going for.

Some standing trees may need to be harvested to allow the logger access to the damaged timer. Is this something you would be willing to allow? How is timber classified and its worth will be one of the details to work out with the logger.

Timber is normally harvested either tree length; or, in eight or sixteen foot lengths. If the damaged timber is shorter than eight feet it may not be marketable. The logger may know of a specialty mill that will take shorter logs, if not be prepared for no compensation from this timber.

In closing, storm damaged timber is not a new occurrence. Lumber and paper mills as well as loggers have experience harvesting and utilizing this timber type. The Alabama Forestry Commission has helped landowners through times like these before and stands ready to do so whenever needed.

- How long do I have to salvage my damaged timber?

You have roughly three to six months to harvest your storm damaged timber before the wood quality deteriorates as a result of lost water and nutrients normally supplied by the tree’s root system. After that time, there is not much the wood can be used for except for firewood.

- Is there any financial assistance available to help replant my timber?

Your local FSA (Farm Service Agency) is taking applications for the Emergency Forestry Restoration Program (EFRP). The EFRP program is a program that allows eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster. EFRP program participants may receive financial assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost to implement approved emergency forest restoration practices as determined by county FSA committees. Funding for EFRP is appropriated by Congress and it has not been determined at this time if congress will fund the program. It is recommend that landowners who have tornado damage file an application with FSA in case the program is funded at a later date.

It is also advisable to sign up for other programs that provide assistance for reforestation that have a history for being funded yearly even though they are not tied to natural disasters. Check with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about reforestation cost share funding available through the EQIP, WHIP, and AACDCP programs. Some of these programs are competitive applications and guidelines could be changed in the future for landowners who have received timber damage.

Additional information on EFRP is available at FSA offices and on FSA’s website at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov and www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation
Additional information on EQUIP and WHIP programs available at the NRCS offices are on their web site at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ 
Additional information on .AACDCP is available at the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Offices are on their web site at: http://swcc.alabama.gov/Default.aspx?sm=e

 - Why are timber prices so low?

The primary reason for low timber prices during times of natural disaster like the recent tornadoes is the result of “supply and demand”. The market is flooded with large amounts of timber to be salvaged and it is more than the processor needs to operate at the time, therefore the price drops. Another example would be how the price increases during wet periods because of limited access to timber. The timber could also be degraded or damaged, which would make it a lower valued product (sawtimber vs. pulpwood). Another factor affecting timber prices at any time is the cost of fuel. As the cost of fuel increases, landowners are offered less for their timber due to increased transportation and harvest costs.

The other factor that affects timber prices is the mill’s need to conduct maintenance. The tornadoes occurred at the time of the year when mills start rolling shutdowns on production lines. This means that they take one set of production equipment offline to perform annual maintenance. By doing this they reduce their demand for wood.

 - A tree service says the trees in my yard are damaged and they need trimming. Is this
    true?

To answer this question correctly a professional should visit the property. If you would like an Alabama Forestry Commission employee to come make an assessment, please utilize the directory on our website (www.forestry.alabama.gov) to locate information about the local office. You can also consult with the Extension Service or a local Forester. I would certainly not allow any tree trimming until I received a second opinion. If you decide to utilize a tree service, I would advise you to thoroughly investigate the company’s work history before hiring them. Visit the Alabama Forestry Commission Tornado Recovery website for identifying a certified arborist to assess and if necessary remove trees. http://www.forestry.alabama.gov/Tornado_Damage_and_Recovery_Information.aspx#Homeowner_Resources .

 - A logger has salvaged my timber, how do I go about getting it replanted?

Salvaging the downed timber was the first step in the road back to having a healthy forest. The second step in re-establishing your forest would be a site preparation treatment. After most salvage operations, this will include a chemical treatment to kill the competing vegetation and then a prescribed burn to get rid of the debris. The seedlings can be planted during the winter following the site preparation. The site preparation/treatment might need to be delayed until next year in order to let the leftover logging slash and debris dry out enough to burn completely.

There are certain factors involved in reclaiming areas like this than can make the practices needed and cost to the landowner vary greatly. To have a site-specific, thorough recommendation, please contact your local Alabama Forestry Commission office for a site visit. There are also some cost share programs offered by the FSA and NRCS offices that you can check on to see if your site will qualify.

- A logger has salvaged my timber and pushed the debris that was left into large piles.
   What 
do I need to do to burn these piles?

The Army Corps of Engineers have emergency burning sites in several counties. The federal government is offering a cost-share program that pays 90% of the removal of storm debris to one of these sites if you reside in a community, and can get the debris to the roadside. This arrangement is NOT indefinite, currently ends on July 12th but has been requested to extend for 60 days, so get your debris to a convenient pick up site ASAP. You can coordinate the time with your County Commission, City Public Works, or possibly the County Road Department.

According to ADEM, it is OK to burn storm debris on your own property if it is in the tornado path. Other areas are still subject to ADEM’s Burn Ban (May 1 – October 31, if you county is in that group). If under the burn ban, the only burning allowed is for Agricultural or Silvicultural reasons. You will need to contact the Alabama Forestry Commission to obtain a Burn Permit if you are conducting this type of burning.

If “in the tornado path” describes your land, take care to keep a cleared space of at least 25 feet around the spot to be burned and have someone to watch it at all times. Be aware of weather conditions (i.e. wind, relative humidity) and keep in mind that your smoke may create hazardous conditions. If you are unsure about your ability to burn, use a vendor from the Alabama Forestry Commission’s website (www.forestry.alabama.gov, under the Market/Informational Resources & Publications tab. A registered Burn Prescriptionist or someone listed under Residential (WUI) Hazards Fuel Reduction would be possibilities. If you can’t find a suitable vendor, contact the Alabama Forestry Commission. We will evaluate your site and (if feasible) make recommendations for burning at some future time.

- If I don’t clean up my damaged timber, will beetles get in my undamaged timber?

Certain Pine forests are more likely to suffer from SPB infestations than others. The Southern Pine Beetle most commonly infests stands that consist of:

1. Loblolly or shortleaf pine older than 10 years of age.
2. Unmanaged natural stands or plantations that are over-crowded and slow growing.
3. Over-mature stands with declining radial growth
4. Dense pine stands that are rated as medium to very high, using the Alabama SPB Hazard Rating
    System.

Therefore, you have a greater chance of beetle infestation if you have a very dense stand of pine timber than if you have some logging debris or damaged timber. The fresh sap in summer months can attract beetles, so burning logging debris or storm damaged timber is a good suggestion.

In an infested stand of Pine timber, emphasis is placed on control by timely removal and utilization of merchantable infested material. Un-merchantable material (small trees, infested bark, infested tops, etc.) should be either piled and burned or, as a last resort, chemically treated. Control efforts should be a year-round project, although winter control is particularly important because brood densities tend to be higher and concentrated in a fewer number of trees. Research has indicated that control of one infested tree during the winter months may prevent 10 trees from becoming infested the following spring.

If your damaged timber is Hardwood, you have very little to worry about from bark beetles. Check the AFC website at www.forestry.alabama.gov for additional information
on insects, disease and invasive species.

- Due to the storms I had several trees that had to be removed from my yard. What type
   tree
should I replace them with?

It is sad to lose trees that we have grown attached to. But no tree lives forever no matter how bad we want them to. Some trees do better on some sites than others, depending on the size of the space and what you are looking for in a tree – shade, aesthetics, or maybe both. There are a wide variety of trees available for planting in your yard.

For shade, an oak tree would be an excellent choice because they grow tall and their leafy canopies spread wide. Just remember that their root system will also spread wide, and they will produce acorns. Another option you might consider is a fruit or nut tree, such as an apple or pecan. Both types would provide shade for your yard, and will also produce fruit or nuts for yourself or animals to enjoy. The Sawtooth oak is a fast growing tree that can produce nuts in as few as 3 years.

I would not recommend planting a pine tree for a yard tree. Pines tend to weather storms better in close groups, such as plantations, and can easily be uprooted with wet and windy weather.

If you need assistance deciding what type of tree would be best for you and your property, contact your local Alabama Forestry Commission office. They will be happy to visit and recommend a site-specific variety to best suit your needs.

You can buy trees at local nurseries or home stores. The Alabama Forestry Commission also does a free tree giveaway in the late winter/early spring. Check with your local office to see what types of trees will be available.

- I have several large trees down in my yard and no logger seems interested in them,
  what
should I do?

The Alabama Forestry Commission has a list of loggers for each county on their website, www.forestry.alabama.gov, under the Resources/Informational Tab. This may help in finding some vendors that you might not have contacted. The next step to take would be to call local tree services; they can remove limbs and debris from your yard also. However they do charge for the service and you will need to sign a contract and make sure they are bonded. Another alternative would be to look for individuals who can use them for firewood.