John Twitchell, Colorado State Forest Service

October 8, 2009

John Twitchell, Steamboat Springs region forester with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), lead a lively discussion on the state of the forest in the northern and central mountains. Highlights:

  • Lodgepole pine is the strongest structurally of all Western pine species
  • There is near 100% mortality of mature lodgepole in the Steamboat area
  • Six million board feet in mill capacity has been lost regionally due to the poor economy,
  • There is concern about declining interest in forest management once the lodgepole red needle stage is over. We should take advantage of the increased social acceptance of proactive management for future forest health planning.
  • Wood utilization: commodity vs specialty markets. It costs $27-$30 a ton to put wood on a truck locally regardless of end use. Two by fours (2x4) represent a commodity market that will continue to be dominated by below-cost Canadian and out of state suppliers
  • Specialty applications (flooring, molding, siding, and cabinetry) represent the highest value use for beetle kill pine.
  • Sudden Aspen Decline (SAD) has become a concern. Typically involves 50% mortality without regeneration.
White River National Forest Cary Green described the status of the revised forest plan for the area.
  • Plan now identifies timber sale target at 8-9 million board feet, down from a current 40 million board feet.
  • Feds cannot promise a ten year supply of wood. Land base is insufficient to accommodate a twenty year stewardship contract
  • Locally, fuels reduction projects in the Lower Blue will begin this fall upon plan approval
  • Local tree service companies will be encouraged to apply for small (100 acres and up) mitigation projects.