Local task force to brainstorm on economically sustainable uses
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Switching back to an early morning meeting time, the Summit Forest Health Task Force will try to answer some of the most vexing questions about finding economically viable uses for the massive quantities of beetle-killed lodgepole pines that are piling up and starting to rot.
The group, focused on education and collaboration, is meeting April 14 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Frisco Community Center on Third Ave.
During the discussion, panelists will try to determine which markets for salvaged lodgepole pine are viable and sustainable, and what impacts new technologies and improved transportation options might have on Colorado’s struggling timber industry.
At a task force meeting last year, several local builders said the beetle-killed wood is too expensive.
“if we can mainstream the product, and it’s priced competitively we should find a home for it,” said Bighorn Material’s Don Sather, speaking last June during a discussion at a Summit Forest Health Task Force meeting in Frisco.
One local contractor said he was bidding on several large construction projects at Copper Mountain. He’d like to use beetle-killed wood from Colorado, but he said it’s hard to find. As he sourced materials for the job, he found that most of the beetle-killed timber that’s available at competitive prices is coming from Wyoming and Montana.
Frisco’s Dan McCrerey expressed similar frustrations at the meeting last June.
“Why do I see all this deadfall that the Forest Service has cut and paid for? why I can’t I get it? I’d like to give it a shot,” said McCrerey, who developed the Wellington Neighborhood near Breckenridge and is now working on the Peak One affordable housing project in Frisco.
Some Colorado beetle-killed wood has been used to build housing in Haiti. The wood was milled into two-by-fours and four-by-fours in Montrose, trucked to Houston and then shipped to Haiti. The shelters are simple rectangular structures with corrugated roofs and plastic siding.
Several uses for beetle-killed wood have already emerged, including fuel for heating in the form of wood pellets manufactured in Kremmling.
Other discussions have centered around the potential for biomass energy on a larger scale to heat municipal or community buildings. Click here to read one of the latest Summit Voice biomass stories.
As well, a few companies have had some success in converting the wood to consumer products, including furniture, siding, flooring and paneling. Click here to read about New Earth Pellets Depot.