By Julie Johansen
“It doesn’t take long when visiting the National Forest in Utah to notice there are many dead trees,” Sanpete District Ranger Kyle Beagley stated. “The vast majority of these dead trees are Engelmann Spruce that have been killed by a spruce beetle.”
“In the last 14 years, the spruce beetle has caused an estimated 90% Engelmann Spruce mortality on the northern portion of the Manti-LaSal National Forest,” Mike Scottorn, Forest Service personnel added. “This includes about 70,000 acres in Carbon, Emery, Sanpete and Sevier Counties.”
The Forest Service is conducting timber sales on the Sanpete, Ferron/Price District of the forest. The removal of the dead trees is advantageous for the following reasons:
- It enhances wildlife habitat
- It enhances rangeland for livestock grazing
- It reduces fuel and thus the size and effects of wildfires
- It improves aspen regeneration
- It increases recreation opportunities
- It is a product and economic base for local communities
- It improves the health and resilience of the watersheds
In order to benefit the forest composition and future potential timber purchases, treatment is needed. The fuel project with the forest service hopes to accomplish all these goals as well as balance the forest growth, which ideally would be 60% spruce, 30% Subalpine fir and 10% other species. With infestation of the spruce beetle, it is now 5% spruce, 85% Subalpine fir and 10% other species. Spruce beetle live in the Cambrian layer between the bark and the wood. They lay their eggs there and with all the activity, the bark dies but wood is not harmed.
Timber sales remove the dead Engelmann Spruce. Timber sales Administrator Anderson said, ”The Forest Service have had seven sales over 5,700 acres with a volume of 90,000 CCF (hundred cubic feet). Each loaded log truck carries about 10 CCF so that would equal about 9,000 truckloads of timber. Last year, approximately 800 truck loads of timber came off the forest in one sale near the Skyline Mine. In the future, there could be logging of 33,500 acres or 780,000 CCF’s from dead Engelmann Spruce trees. This harvest would occur over the next 10-15 years. The wood is dry when harvested and does not have to wait to dry when brought into the lumber yards. The timber has mainly been sold in Sevier and Sanpete counties. The companies, Satterwhite and Sanpete Firewood and Shavings shared on video that they are able to use all of the product that is brought to their yards; wood for log homes, fire wood, lumber, chips, shavings and sawdust. No waste!”
The funds from these timber harvests will be used for restoration and reforestation activities on the forest; such as collecting seeds, growing seedlings, planting saplings, treatment of residual wood, enhancement of aspen regeneration and other much needed work. This will set the stand on the trajectory, where it will grow to a healthier stand much faster than if nothing is done.
District Ranger Beagley commented, “We are experiencing a great partnership with the logging industry. As a forest we understand that once the dead trees have been harvested, we need to support a base for live or green timber to continue to manage the forest wisely long-term. We are focused on that need and working hard to provide those opportunities for those purchasers interested in green timber.”