Published 2:36 am Wednesday, January 19, 2005
By By Adam Prestridge
Hurricane Ivan's destructive winds are still being felt.
Although the high-powered winds died down several months ago as cleanup efforts began, those that rely on the timber industry are still feeling it in their pocket books.
Tuesday afternoon, the Alabama Forest Recovery Task Force held its first meeting of 2005 at the Bay Minette Civic Center to report good news. The task force gave the status of the timber recovery effort throughout the counties in southern Alabama hit hardest and revealed that it has gone better than anticipated.
"It looks like we're going to be able to surpass the goals we set for the total salvage," Executive Vice President of the Alabama Forestry Association John McMillan said.
Following Ivan, damage assessments revealed that the state suffered $610 million in total timber damage, which $296 million was in moderate to severe damaged areas. As for Escambia County, it suffered $9,136,521 in timber damage.
The task force is nearing its goal of 22 percent with 17 percent of timber values recovered.
As with most products, timber has a shelf life and must be preserved within a certain amount of time before it's unable to be used.
"We're working hard to recover 70 to 80 percent of our own, personal product," John Swift of Swift Lumber Company said. "I don't know if we're going to achieve that, but that's what we're trying to do."
Timber has been coming in by the truckload daily to the Atmore-based lumberyard where it is being preserved for future use.
McMillan said there are three effective ways to preserve timber including increase production on a local basis, moving timber to farther locations or using a wet storage, which controls the temperature and stain.
McMillan said a high percentage of the salvaged timber is being received from private landowners.
"What we set out to do was to salvage as much timber as possible for non-industrial private land owners," he said.
The task force's chairman David Helm also announced that some landowners have been surveyed for seedling needs, which will assist in the forest health and reforestation. The Forest Health and Reforestation Committee has evaluated requirements and doesn't expect a shortfall this year or next.