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Opportunities and Challenges of Utilizing Small Diameter Timber from Fuel Reduction Thinning Programs

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  025004,  2002 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.9707) @2002
Authors:   Eini C. Lowell, R. James Barbour
Keywords:   Small diameter timber, restoration treatments, value-added wood products

Trees being removed in fuel reduction treatments are often smaller in diameter than those historically removed in a timber harvest. There are many opportunities to use this material but the resource characteristics must match the final product and the manufacturing method at the appropriate scale of the local community. Research has shown this material is suited for a number of products ranging from structural lumber (small diameter trees coming from suppressed stands appear to have properties similar to old growth), to cut-stock (clear cuttings), to roundwood products (posts and poles). Using emerging technology to capture as much value from this resource as possible is key in offsetting treatment costs. Challenges associated with these treatments include peoples conflicting expectations for forested landscapes, the economics of harvesting and hauling this material using the existing infrastructure, and the tradeoffs of performing these activities where they are most needed.

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