WASHINGTON – Scientists from the USDA Forest Service reported Hurricane Katrina damaged or destroyed approximately 19 billion board feet of timber estimated at a value of $5 billion in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
A board foot is the unit of measurement for lumber. A board foot is 1 foot long, 1 foot wide and 1 inch thick.
What’s left. “While this early assessment suggests a potential significant loss of timber, the next step will be to determine what is salvageable,” said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth.
“Recovering the usable timber will help to diminish the economic loss as well as to prevent damage from insects and disease and to reduce the risk of fires,” Bosworth said.
Put to use. If removed quickly, storm damaged wood can be salvageable for various products.
Down and damaged wood – trees with broken tops, uprooted or leaning trees, and trees that are bent, broken or splintered – can be sufficient to produce 800,000 single family homes and 25 million tons of paper and paperboard, forestry researchers report
The initial assessment indicates that the damage to the timber is spread across 5 million acres of lightly to heavily damaged forestland – both public and private – in the three states.
Damaged area. However, the majority of the forestland affected is under private ownership.
Forest inventories indicate one-third of the timber damaged is concentrated in eight counties of southern Mississippi.
Nearly 90 percent of all forestland damaged is within 60 miles of the coast and predominantly in Mississippi.
“The extraordinary scale of the hurricane’s impacts will require solid coordination at federal, state and community levels to restore these forested lands,” said Southern Group of State Foresters Chair Leah MacSwords.
Types of wood. Nearly 60 percent of the damage occurred to softwoods – predominantly pines – with the remainder of the damage occurring to hardwoods.
The damaged acres may require additional treatment to reduce the risk of fires posed by downed trees and limbs.
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