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Agency launches dashboard list of all open timber sales

Kathryn Sosbe
Office of Communication
October 19, 2021

Screenshot for the Timber Sales Dashboard
Screenshot from the Forest Service Advertised Timber Sale Dashboard

The Forest Service published a first-ever online list that shows available timber sales on national forests, another step to improving customer service by making it easier for purchasers to find and bid on timber sale opportunities.

Before the Forest Service Advertised Timber Sale Dashboard, anyone interested in timber sales or for Integrated Resource Timber Stewardship contracts had to repeatedly visit individual forest websites or subscribe to each forest’s electronic notifications to learn about opportunities.

“The dashboard is designed for the purchasers of federal timber from national forests,” said Dave Wilson, the agency’s presale forester. “It’s a way they, or anyone else for that matter, can get a good grasp nationally of what we are doing as well as what we are doing locally. On one dashboard they can see where timber is available just using their web browser.”

The Forest Service conducts timbers sales as a general way to harvest timber from national forests. A timber sale is the formal process for an individual or company to buy a contract to cut and remove specified timber. In 2020, contractors cut and sold $183 million worth of timber from national forests.

Loggers remove timber from a national forest in 1920. Between 1850 and 1910, more than 190 million acres of U.S. forests were cleared to make way for agriculture. While an important mission of the agency is to provide timber, the decision on when and where to cut are based on sound land management decisions.
Loggers remove timber from a national forest in 1920. Between 1850 and 1910, more than 190 million acres of U.S. forests were cleared to make way for agriculture. While an important mission of the agency is to provide timber, the decision on when and where to cut are based on sound land management decisions. (USDA Forest Service archive photo)

Integrated Resource Timber Stewardship contracts have an additional requirement for the contractor to perform stewardship work, such as building connections under roads. The stewardship work also includes providing other restoration opportunities, such as critical passages for fish and other aquatic species that live all or most of their lives in water. The same is true for animals that rely on the areas along streams and rivers.

“The sale from harvesting of timber is one of the many steps we take to restore and maintain a vigorous forest – to keep them from being overstocked or overrun by disease or insect mortality,” Wilson said. “It’s one of the many pieces we use for managing healthy forests.”

Managing for healthy forests include such land management decisions as thinning an overgrown area of a forest.

“Anybody can bid on a timber sale, but if it’s your first time, there are things you need to do,” Wilson said. “When you win a contract, you have to have the proper finances. You go through what is called a financial reliability analysis, post a bond, and other steps in the contractual process. You also need the proper equipment.

Areas for timber harvests on national forests are chosen based on myriad land management factors that are for the long-term health of the land.
Areas for timber harvests on national forests are chosen based on myriad land management factors that are for the long-term health of the land. (USDA Forest Service photo)

“When you start talking even about the small sales, you are talking about a lot of volume and a lot of different products. There is a definite need for professional equipment. If you are looking to just buy firewood, the best route is to contact your local forest and get a firewood permit.”

A typical timber sale spans on average five years. Generally, timber from the West is more often used for construction. Eastern forests more typically provide pulp and paper fiber or are used to build furniture. In the last three years, the Forest Service sold an average of 3 billion board feet each year. That’s nearly enough timber annually to build 200,000 homes 2,400 square feet in size.

“We are not necessarily expanding timber harvest from national forests, which produce just one-quarter of all timber that is harvested across the country,” Wilson said. “When we offer timber for sale, we do so as part of good forest management planning for the benefit of the nation.”

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/agency-launches-dashboard-list-all-open-timber-sales