DECEMBER 2007 STORM
In early December of 2007, a winter storm that included snow followed closely by extraordinary rainfall and unusually high winds caused an unprecedented amount of damage to forestlands and farms in southwest Washington. Below is information about the weather events themselves, coordinated efforts to recover from storm damage, landowner assistance available during recovery, and more.
Storm Weather Summary
Map of December 2007 Storm Affected Areas (75KB JPG)
From Sunday, December 2 through Tuesday, December 4, 2007 an extraordinary amount of rain fell (as much as 20 inches reported in some rain gauges) on top of several feet of snow received just the week prior in highly localized areas of Lewis, Grays Harbor, and Pacific Counties and other surrounding areas. This resulted in catastrophic flooding throughout the region. In addition, unusually high winds in excess of 80 miles per hour, gusting up to an excess of 145 miles per hour, were sustained over this period of time.
The early December snow, rain and wind storms resulted in widespread destruction of farms, residences, livestock, timber, and infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
When the floodwaters receded, deposits of woody debris were revealed on area farmlands.
The windstorm significantly damaged forest lands along the Washington coast from Naselle to north of Hoquiam. Small forest landowners were hit especially hard. For some, a lifetime’s work was flattened by these winds in just minutes. Industrial forestlands, state trust lands, and county forestlands were also damaged by those severe, sustained winds.
Immediately after the storm, DNR began assessing damage from the flooding and wind storm, on state trust lands, farms, and private forestlands. Current estimates show that approximately 17,000 acres of forestland were heavily damaged, and much of this will need to be salvaged in the next 16 months to maintain marketability and maximum value. Rough estimates suggest that salvage operations may bring as much as 600-800 million board feet of timber onto the market. Included in this number, DNR estimates blow-down timber from state trust lands to total approximately 100 million board feet. The remainder is from private landowners. These totals are very imprecise at this time.
Since the normal harvest level in Washington State is about 4 billion board feet per year on private and state lands, the wind-blown timber represents between 15 and 20 percent of our state's annual timber harvest.
However, not all of this blowdown will reach the market because of damage from insects, weather, and other factors. In addition, the salvage harvesting will occur over a 16-month period of time. For this reason, it’s important to recognize that while the amount of storm-damaged wood to be salvaged doesn’t precisely equate with a comparable amount of standing timber that now wouldn’t be harvested, this comparison does help us estimate the measure of the loss taken by the storm. Also, it’s concentrated in a highly localized areas, not spread over the entire state, so the impact on the market will be felt keenly in that area, and less so across the entire state.
TFW Meetings about storm recovery
Three Timber Fish and Wildlife(TFW) group meetings are being held to give landowners and other TFW stakeholders an interactive opportunity to ask technical questions regarding options for recovery planning. This recovery assistance is being offered in coordination with other state and federal agencies, tribes, and local governments.
Recovery assistance for landowners
DNR has begun working with other natural resource agencies, industrial and small forest landowners and agricultural landowners to assist them in storm recovery efforts.
While the agency is expediting forest practices applications so these landowners can begin their recovery harvesting, road repair, and other activities, forest practices rules remain in effect. Alternate plans may be used by some landowners, and each will be evaluated on its own merits, versus using a one-size-fits-all approach.
The document linked below contains a more detailed description of expedited forest practices application processing related to salvage of storm-damaged timber.
Expedited Forest Practices Application Processing Related to Salvage of Storm Damaged Timber (2,085KB PDF)
Storm Damage to Forests: Information for Landowners (110KB PDF)
Financial Assistance for Small Forest Landowners With Storm Damage
Woody Debris Removal Assistance on Farmlands
DNR will coordinate removal of woody debris in the upper Chehalis River Valley and surrounding locations where early December flooding deposited material on farmlands. Removal services will be available at no cost to farmers who request the agency’s assistance and authorize access to their land. DNR is coordinating the woody debris removal effort with the state’s other natural resources agencies, the State Military Department Emergency Management Division, and local governments in the affected counties. DNR’s expertise with emergency response and contacts with the forest products industry are resources that will help facilitate efficient removal of this material.
The agency has made visual assessments in Lewis County to determine the extent of the woody debris. Most of it is concentrated in the vicinity of Boistfort and Ceres. Assessments have not yet been done in Pacific or Grays Harbor Counties, but agricultural properties in those counties are eligible for the service. DNR will work with the counties, local conservation districts, and Natural Resources Conservation Service to get information to the farmers who have woody debris from the storm on their agricultural lands.
The goal of the effort is to clear the woody debris from agricultural fields and then market as much as possible. At this time, it appears most of the marketable wood will be chipped for fuel. Any proceeds from the effort will be used to defray the cost of the removal.
DNR’s contact for this effort is Region Manager Eric Schroff at the Pacific Cascade Region office in Castle Rock:
Recovery on DNR-managed state trust land
DNR’s Pacific Cascade Region staff is hard at work to expedite recovery from storm damage. This effort includes harvest during the next 16 to 18-month period, clean-up of recreation areas, and necessary road repair. Approximately 100 million board feet of blown-down timber will be harvested. Biologists with expertise in marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls, and other threatened and endangered species will be involved where habitat was impacted by the storm. While the region is still assessing the full extent of the storm damage, preliminary recovery plans have been drafted and are under executive review.
Declaration By Commissioner Doug Sutherland Regarding Storm Damage to Trust Land Timber Resources (177KB PDF)
Olympic Region Forest Practices Contact List (44KB PDF)
Pacific Cascade Region Forest Practices Contacts List (44KB PDF)