Landowners, loggers and forest products companies now may quickly locate each other through a newly opened Web site devoted to hurricane forestry salvage operations.
Developed at Mississippi State University, www.wssg.cfr.msstate.edu enables landowners to find or request loggers, while also providing loggers the opportunity to announce their company's capabilities and other information. Additionally, forest products companies can list their needs, including the sizes and types of wood they desire.
Parties without Internet access may obtain the same information by telephoning toll-free 1-866-706-8869.
"Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, we received telephone calls from numerous loggers who were willing to provide contract services to landowners with timber damage from the storm," said Laura Grace, a professor in MSU's Forest and Wildlife Research Center.
"In response, we designed this Web site to serve as an avenue for communication," she added. "Now, landowners and companies can find loggers, loggers can find companies and landowners, and everyone benefits."
Grace said the online resource initially focused on the thousands of damaged acres left in the wake of Katrina's swath through Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Following a comparably ruinous visit two weeks ago by Hurricane Rita, Texas was added to the directory.
While salvage work must take place quickly and smoothly to preserve the damaged timber and prepare the land for the next forest crop, forestry professionals are reminding all involved that the affected forestlands are not safe for either landowners or loggers.
"Salvaging bent and downed timber is more difficult, slower and more expensive than harvesting standing timber," said MSU forestry professor Bill Stuart. "For one thing, timber appearing sound on the outside could be damaged internally and, two, a saturated market drives down prices."
Logging companies from as far away as Alaska, California and Oregon are among more than 30 already entered into the MSU database, he said. Also entered are 11 forest products companies, some of which also are posting information on their wet-deck storage operations.
Stuart said timber professionals understand how vastly different salvage work is from traditional clean-up efforts. Cleanup of timber-blocked roadways, power lines and the like that interfere with the recovery process is paid for with Federal Emergency Management Agency funds through authorized contracts.
In Mississippi and Louisiana, AshBritt Inc. (www.ashbritt.com) is the contract agency. In Alabama, it's Phillips and Jordan Inc. (www.pandj.com); in Texas, D & J Enterprises Inc. (www.dandjenterprises.net).
Stuart said timber salvage is a commercial undertaking involving landowners, loggers and forest products companies working together under the guidelines of a mutually agreed-upon contract. The salvage process is exactly the same as for selling, harvesting and buying undamaged timber, he explained.
He observed, however, that small landowners traditionally have not fared well in salvage operations since overhead costs and time are roughly the same regardless of tract size. For that reason, small landowners are being urged to join together with others similarly affected in their area to offer their collective timber as a package deal, he said.
For information about the timber salvage Web site, contact Grace at (662) 325-8919 or Stuart at 325-0913.