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Loggers, foresters crank out firewood for December storm victims
For immediate release - Local media distribution
June 11, 2008
Contact: Rod Nichols, 503-945-7425
In the aftermath of the storms that raked coastal Oregon and Washington last December, retired forester Bob Alverts was touched by the plight of local residents struggling to recover from the heavy flooding. He knew that area forest landowners also faced a challenge: cleaning up thousands of wind-toppled trees. Capitalizing on the connection, he launched a project through the Oregon Society of American Foresters (SAF) that would benefit both groups.
Since then, the Woodcut Project has marshaled dozens of volunteers, along with loaned trucks and equipment, to convert downed timber and donated logs into nearly 83 cords of firewood for the homeowners of Vernonia, Oregon and other storm-afflicted communities. Additional donated wood from timber companies will push the total well into triple digits. [A cord of firewood is a stack approximately four feet high by four feet wide by eight feet long.]
“We have at least another 30 cords equivalent promised from Plum Creek, Roseburg Forest Products and Starker Forests,” Alverts said. “So when it all comes in we will have well over our 100-cord goal.”
Earlier, Longview Timber Company (formerly Longview Fibre) donated the equivalent of 40 cords that was cut up by local residents. 
The back-to-back storms late last year hit the Oregon and Washington coasts with hurricane-force winds, mowing down thousands of acres of trees. Farther inland where wind damage was less, torrential rains erased forest roads, swept bridges off their pilings and left thousands without power. The SAF and other volunteers focused their early efforts on providing relief to those hardest hit, among them the residents of Vernonia, Oregon. In the town of only 2,500 people, more than 800 homes were flooded.
Using loaned chainsaws and other gear from Stihl Northwest, the workers cut and split the downed and donated logs into firewood, then hauled it to the beleaguered community. The timing was right, Alverts said, as the unusually cool spring had extended the heating season, depleting many homeowners’ wood supplies.
While it is customary to hold the credit roll to the end, in the case of the Woodcut Project the corporations, individuals, small businesses and organizations that stepped up to help the storm victims is a story in itself. Saw shops loaned the volunteers new chainsaws, log splitters and other equipment to process the downed wood, while others offered trucks to transport logs to work areas and pickups to haul the firewood to distribution sites. Cash donations from SAF members and a $1,200 SAF Forester’s Fund grant helped reimburse some of the volunteers and supporters for expenses.
Local news media helped solicit helpers for the weekend “woodcut” days, while others furnished food and refreshments for the woodcutters themselves, who put in several long days turning logs into fireplace fuel.
The Society of American Foresters’ plea for help reached others far beyond the storm area. DR Johnson Lumber of Prairie City donated an entire truckload of dry pine logs. Iron Triangle Logging of John Day hauled the logs to Pendleton, and local mill Blue Mountain Lumber completed the relay by delivering them to Vernonia.
Landowners donating wind-thrown timber to the Woodcut Project ranged from industrial forest products companies to federal resource agencies.
Alverts offered special thanks to a list of contributors including: Oregon Society of American Foresters; Weyerhaeuser Company; Longview Timber Company; Bureau of Land Management Tillamook Field Office; Oregon Department of Forestry; DR Johnson Lumber Company; Iron Triangle Logging; Blue Mountain Lumber company; Mike Pihl Logging; Stihl Northwest; Precision Outdoor Power Equipment; Mason, Bruce and Girard Consulting Foresters; Jennie Cornell; Jim Rombach; Beaverton Krispy Kreme; Boy Scouts of America Explorer Post 459; Boring Fire District; Green Diamond Resources Company; Smallwood News; Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde; Columbia County Disaster Relief Coordinators Susan Wagner and Robb Wilson; The Independent Newspaper; Bob Williams; Oregon State University Extension; Associated Oregon Loggers; local Vernonia resident volunteers; church group volunteers; AmeriCorps volunteers; Multnomah County work crews; and Plum Creek, Roseburg Forest Products and Starker Forests.
In a recent email to this host of volunteers and donors, the SAF member thanked them for their efforts to date and left the door open for follow-up.
“This fall we may do some additional woodcutting for these folks, so stay tuned!” Alverts said.
Local residents in the storm-afflicted areas will have opportunity to cut their own firewood this summer. The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Astoria office is making wood available in recently logged areas under permit on a first-come, first-served basis. Details can be obtained by calling the office’s information line, 503-325-7215.
Anyone who has logs or wood that they would like to donate to the SAF Woodcut Project for the storm victims is encourage to contact Bob Alverts, 503-639-0405, balverts@teleport.com.