Northwestern Counties Cash In on Timber Sales


Counties in northwestern Wisconsin are cashing in on damaged timber from a straight line windstorm last summer. But they’re being cautious with the windfall.

More than 16,000 acres of county owned forest were destroyed when straight line winds ripped through the northwestern part of the state last July. Counties were in a race against the clock to harvest the downed timber before it rotted and lost its value. A year later, the hardest hit counties are nearly finished with their salvage and revenues are up. Burnett County Forest Administrator Jake Nichols says they normally budget for around $800,000 in timber sales. With the salvage he says that number is around $1.6 million, “We’re having a good year on revenues because of our storm damage and because of the sheer volume we sold.”

Nichols says that’s even with the salvaged timber selling for 50 cents on the dollar. County Administrator Candace Fitzgerald says board members are looking at using some of that money for infrastructure projects.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Douglas County also got a boost in revenue with sales topping out at $1.5 million and $1 million worth out on contract. But Forest Administrator Jon Harris says thanks to the blowdown there’ll be 6,000 fewer acres to harvest in years to come, “You’re talking hundreds of thousands of chords and that’s a lot of lost future revenue when those sales would have been mature enough to harvest.”

Douglas County Board Chair Doug Finn says that’s why they’ve created a timber salvage fund, “We’re putting some of this storm damage money aside for the future for reforestation and improving the roads and doing things that relate to forest related products.”

All told more than 130,000 acres of forest were blown to the ground.