The high bid for the most recent City of Hoquiam timber sale came in at just under $1.25 million, part of the city’s 60-year plan for sustained timber harvest to fund improvements in the city’s utilities infrastructure and the maintenance and operation of its watersheds.
The sale covered about 87 acres of mostly 70-year-old Douglas fir and western hemlock — 4 million board feet of it — in the Davis Creek Watershed, west of Highway 101.
The 60-year timber plan was produced by Loren Hiner, Montesano City Forester who, in the last five years or so, has contracted to lend his expertise to the cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam.
“Loren has forecast out for us the next 60 years,” said Hoquiam City Administrator Brian Shay. “He has every single section of forest plotted with the age class and a harvest schedule.”
The timing of timber sales can vary depending on a number of factors.
“Realistically, we should be doing a timber sale every year,” said Shay. However, looking back, there have been times of higher harvest. In 2007, the city sold much more timber because storms that year produced a lot of blowdown; it was either sell it then or risk letting the valuable timber rot into the ground.
The schedule Hiner has developed has a steady harvest level of one or two sales a year, 50 to 80 acres each, over the next 20 years, said Shay. As time goes on, the 20 years following that would likely see less frequent sales. The 20 years following that, timber sales can pick up again, according to the schedule.
Money from timber sales goes into maintaining and operating the city’s watershed, and also public utility capital improvements, said Hoquiam Mayor Jasmine Dickhoff.
“Without it, our utility rates would be much higher as we are able to rely on the timber sales to fund a majority of our system improvements,” said Shay. “As an example, all of the water line work done in downtown last year was paid for through timber sales, not utility rates.”