Woodland - Spring 2019 - 6

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Seedlings
THE PAINFUL REALITY CHECK OF $159
BY CASEY COX

PHOTO: ANDY HARRISON, GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF
AGRICULTURE

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY GROWING AMERICA

Imagine if you are preparing for this
season's harvest and, overnight, the
price of corn drops to $0.09/bushel. Or
soybeans to $0.22 / bushel. This is the
harsh reality for timber landowners in
the Southeast after Hurricane Michael.
Trees worth $40/ton before the storm
are now only bringing around $1/ton and that's if you're lucky enough to get
a salvage crew.
The week of Hurricane Michael, our
family was discussing possible timber
contracts to harvest a portion of our
mature pines for sawtimber. At the
time, the prices for sawtimber were
approximately $40/ton. After Hurricane
Michael, we were praying we could get
a crew in to salvage the trees for $1/
ton as pulpwood.
With more than 5 million acres
of timber damaged in Georgia and
Florida - some a complete loss - we
resolved to the reality that we may not
be able to salvage any of our damaged
timber. It was difficult enough to see
our pines - both planted and natural -
mangled, snapped and uprooted. Not
being able to salvage the wood for any
purpose added insult to injury.
We felt a sense of urgency to
salvage. The condition of the downed
trees, especially those with exposed
roots, made the trees left standing
susceptible to beetles and other
diseases. If left on the ground too long,
the trees develop a blue stain fungus
or lose weight, decreasing an already
depressed value.
Thankfully, two months after the
storm, a salvage crew moved in. We
are extremely grateful to our foresters
for their persistence in finding a
crew to work with us. The Southeast
6 WOODLAND * Spring 2019

simply does not have enough loggers
and mills to deal with the influx of
damaged timber from the storm. We
are fortunate.
Last week, we received a check
for $159 for 159 tons of pulpwood
that was worth $6,360 before the
storm. If we sell 1,000 tons, we will
receive $1,000 instead of $40,000.
Not all the timber we lost was
sawtimber. Some of our mangled
pines would have been classified as
large poles, which are now priced
at approximately $58/ton. To use
the corn and soybeans comparison
again, that would be similar to selling
corn for $0.06/bushel and beans
for $0.15/bushel. We are essentially
giving away our timber in exchange
for protecting the remaining trees.
For those outside of agriculture, a
similar comparison: you have a job
making $40,000 per year. But at the
end of the year, you find out you'll
only make $1,000 even though you've
already worked the entire year.
I share this to underscore the
challenge timber landowners in the
path of the storm now face. For
some, the damaged timber was their
retirement. Their insurance policy. Their
backup plan. What do they do now?
It takes 20-25 years to grow
merchantable pine. We will not
recover what we lost from the storm
for decades. And no, we do not have
insurance on our timber. Even if we
did, it would still not make up for such
substantial losses.
I traveled to Panama City Beach, FL
for a meeting in mid-December. The
drive was sobering and heartbreaking.
The path I have taken my whole life

to the coast is unrecognizable. The
only damage I have ever witnessed
that comes close to comparison is the
aftermath of a tornado. Imagine a 200
mile-wide tornado. The trip gave me a
wholly new perspective on the extent
of Michael's damage and the fury of
its path.
Our communities in Georgia and
Florida need Federal disaster relief -
now.
This is only the story of timber
for one landowner. Each farmer and
agribusiness in the path of the storm
has a similar, if not worse, narrative
about the impacts of the storm.
Pecans, cotton, poultry, peanuts,
vegetables - we are all struggling after
an unprecedented natural disaster. Our
state leaders in Georgia have already
taken steps to provide disaster relief,
and the Governor convened a special
legislative session in November. We
are hopeful that our leadership at the
national level will follow suit.
When I wrote about our forestland
for Growing America in September,
2018, I never dreamed what October
10 of that year would entail. It is difficult
to describe the sense of loss we feel,
not only for our farm but also for the
entire region.
Will Leonard, a 5th-generation
forester from the Florida Panhandle
articulated this generational impact
poignantly in a recent Wall Street
Journal article:
"Hurricane Michael was more
than just economic loss," said Mr.
Leonard, "I've harvested trees that my
great-grandfather planted. There's a
connection to people in my family I've
never known." A


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Woodland - Spring 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodland - Spring 2019

Overstory
Forest Interactions Seedlings
Forests and Families
Brittany Vanderwall: Saying Yes to Opportunity
‘chipping In’ to Reduce Wildfire Risk in California
Strength in Numbers: Tree Farmers and Advocacy Leaders Rally to Recover Post-Disaster
Tools and Resources
Growing Forest Conservation, Together: The 2019 National Leadership Conference
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Intro
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover1
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover2
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 3
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Overstory
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 5
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Forest Interactions Seedlings
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 7
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 8
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 9
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 10
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 11
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 12
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 13
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 14
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Forests and Families
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 16
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 17
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Brittany Vanderwall: Saying Yes to Opportunity
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 19
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 20
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 21
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 22
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 23
Woodland - Spring 2019 - ‘chipping In’ to Reduce Wildfire Risk in California
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 25
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 26
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 27
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 28
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 29
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Strength in Numbers: Tree Farmers and Advocacy Leaders Rally to Recover Post-Disaster
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 31
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 32
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 33
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 34
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 35
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Tools and Resources
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 37
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Growing Forest Conservation, Together: The 2019 National Leadership Conference
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover3
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover4
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