Months after Ida, Louisiana’s forest industry copes with the loss of thousands of trees
Experts estimate the storm caused $315 million in direct damage to land owners
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Outside Pine Grove in St. Helena Parish, a logging crew races to salvage part of a pine stand partially bulldozed last year by the winds of Hurricane Ida. Time is of the essence since downed trees must be salvaged before disease makes the timber less marketable.
“A lot of people are on hold from the standpoint that there’s not a lot of logging contractors to salvage the timber that’s on the ground,” said Randy Pellichino, a procurement forester who works with land owners in the forest industry.
The LSU Ag Center estimates Ida cost the industry $315 million in direct damage, including severe damage to 167,622 acres of forestland in 11 parishes. Of that, an estimated 57,611 acres suffered “very severe damage” (50 percent or more) and 47,402 acres were classified as “severely damaged” (30-50 percent), according to the Ag Center.
“Forestry is an agricultural commodity,” said Whitney Wallace, an associate area agent with the LS Ag Center in Amite. “Most people don’t realize that and it is the number one agricultural commodity in Louisiana.”
Owners and logging companies have spent months deciding what, if anything, is salvageable on a given property.
“Very few logging companies even want to touch storm damage,” Pellichino said.
Insurance companies no longer allow for men with saws cutting trees, Pellichino said, which means owners and loggers must bring in specialized equipment to harvest damaged timber stands.
“This is a feller buncher,” said Pellichino, pointing to a type of tracked harvester which maneuvers through down trees, using a claw to pinch trees, then cut and sort them.
“The stuff on the ground is, at this point in time, ruined.”
Pellichino said many landowners suffered only some damage, but not enough to attract a logger to come into the forest to harvest.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.
Copyright 2022 WVUE. All rights reserved.