In April 2021, the U.S. Forest Service featured a story about their partnership with Timber Products Ampine division to reduce wildfire risk in California.
For more than 100 years, the U.S. Forest Service has managed and mitigated fires in national forests. Restoration treatments of forests and the aftermath of wildfires produce timber that needs proper disposal. Rather than work alone, the agency partners with local businesses, state, federal and tribal organizations to accomplish their mission.
The conversation between Ampine and the U.S. Forest Service for this partnership began in 2019. Ampine was looking to purchase a log chipper to increase their material flow into the plant to make products. However, their intake demand at the time did not warrant the investment price of a new chipper.
As they continued their search for a possible solution, Rob Crummett, the fiber manager for Ampine at the time, began to have conversations with their contact at the Forest Service.
“Rob had years of experience working with agricultural government agencies and knowing how to acquire grant funding,” said Terry Velasco, Ampine Plant Manager. “It was through Rob that we were able to acquire a grant with the Forest Service to lease a wood chipper and partner to take in non-merchantable logs from forest sites.”
Ampine received the grant from the Forest Service Wood Innovations Grant. It gives them the ability to lease a wood chipper on site. The project began in 2020 and will last for three years with Ampine chipping logs brought in from previous wildfire and bark beetle kill sites.
The benefits of this grant program help the environment, local communities, Ampine and the larger wood industry.
Collecting and using the damaged logs that would otherwise lay as dead, dry tinder reduces wildfire risk in the forests. This is especially pertinent to trees killed by beetle infestation. In the last 3 to 5 years, tree mortality caused by bark beetles and drought totaled about 12 million dead trees in the Eldorado and Stanislaus National Forests.
Ampine’s location near both of the national forests is advantageous to help remove the dead trees and spare the landscape of future fire potential. Positively affecting the local area gives Ampine greater exposure to the local communities. It gives residents the opportunity to learn more about how Ampine sources wood that goes into making products.
“Collaborating with the USFS is a great opportunity that benefits not only Ampine, but our surrounding communities. It removes wood that would be hazardous to the environment in the long run and turns it into a viable product that benefits our society,” said Velasco.
The benefit for Ampine and the larger industry comes as those collected logs are processed into usable wood products, such as particleboard, MDF, mulch or pellets. Once the logs are collected, they first chip them down and further process it to make materials.
“As soon as the fire is out, trees that can serve as saw logs are harvested. Then, the salvage process of non-merchantable logs can begin and last for up to five years. The salvaged logs serve as material for particleboard,” said Velasco.
With the additional material supplemented by the logs from the grant project, Ampine has been able to reduce log buying costs while reducing wildfire risk and supporting healthier forest management. The partnership provides a sustainable answer for both nature and industry.
To see the full U.S. Forest Service article featuring Ampine, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/USFS-Ampine-508.pdf