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Has it been six years already?

Brian J. Vrablick, Northwest Management, Inc.

As I look out the window at the gray skies and snow covered ground, it gives me time to reflect on the six years that have passed since the Deer Park Office opened its doors. In June of 2000 I left the security of my government job and walked into the abyss of consulting forestry.

It has been an exciting and educating six years for me, and many of you reading this article are responsible for our success. I want to thank each and every one of you for placing your trust in me and allowing NMI the opportunity to assist you with your forestland.

Many of NMI’s clients are family forest owners and we assist them with the management of their forest. Timber harvest preparation, log marketing, tree marking, and sale administration are important activities for many of you. I often get asked “What else do you do?” We have worked on several different types of projects this year.

Through a public process, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission identified several parcels of land near Riverside and Mt. Spokane State Parks as surplus and not being an integral part of the future park boundaries. Most of these parcels had timber on them and needed to have the timber value determined. NMI performed cruises and valued the timber on each of these surplus parcels. The timber value was used to help set the minimum bid prior to the auction. Many of these parcels have since sold.

The Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Bureau of Reclamation have an agreement to purchase critical wildlife habitat to partially compensate the Tribe for land flooded by Grand Coulee Dam. When parcels of land come on the market, the value of the timber needs to be set by an independent party. We have cruised and completed timber valuations on 11 parcels this year.

With overstocked conditions of many of our federal and state forests, combined with the droughty conditions, we have seen an increasing number of beetle infestations followed by increased fire risk. On DNR-managed land in the State of Washington, traditional large volume timber sales are the priority. DNR foresters do not have the time to set up timber sales on small diameter stands or low volume stands. The legislature appropriated money for a trial period to contract out the timber sale set-up to target these at-risk stands. To date, the Colville office has bid four contracts and NMI was selected on two of these projects. These projects generally involve 1,000 to 1,500 acres of DNR land. After reconnaissance and timber sale boundaries are approved the sales usually comprise 700 to 1,000 acres. These boundaries are flagged and tagged then we GPS roads, stream buffers, lynx corridors, and the unit boundaries to determine acreages. The stands are then cruised to determine timber volume. Finally, we prepare a report addressing the forest health issues, resource concerns, and our recommended silvicultural prescriptions. The DNR then bids these sales out to the mills on a delivered log basis, something we have been doing for years, but DNR has traditionally conducted lump sum sales.

The prognosis for this program continuing is very good. The returns to the trusts have been higher than anticipated after set-up costs, logging, and hauling are subtracted. In addition, stands with forest health issues are being addressed which not only improves the current stand, but more importantly allows the remaining stand to grow for future generations.

These projects and many others have kept us busy this past year. I know there is a new challenge coming tomorrow, but that is what makes our jobs as consulting foresters so exciting. The Deer Park office is excited to meet the challenges of the coming years. If you have any questions or projects to discuss, please call us.

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