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A Dec. 7 story in the Ravalli Republic included propaganda by the management of Pyramid sawmill and forestry cohorts as to why they don't want bug-killed trees or fire-killed trees. They said why, but not all of it.

Back in 2000 they started having big fires. Until this time, logs were scaled sometimes in the woods or sawmills. Scaling is done with a stick with numbers on it that tells the scaler how many board feet are in the log. At the mill, when they scale similar sized timber, especially lodgepole pine, the scaler picks some logs at random and scales them, then counts how many logs are in the load and calculates how many thousand board feet was in the load. By scaling, anyone could keep track if they were being cheated.

Now, the Forest Service and sawmills want to keep the loggers and the public from knowing just how bad they were stripping the land. So they decided to sell logs by the ton. But that backfired by the Forest Service's own figures.

After a tree dies by fire or bugs, it loses up to 50 percent of its weight in a year or so. Everyone gets cheated of up to half of their paycheck, but the sawmill owner doesn't pay part of what they should, which is why no one wants to burned or bug-killed wood. The sawmill owners could fix this by simply paying the loggers and truckers 50 percent more for getting the logs to the mill. For workers paid by the hour, not by the ton, the hourly pay wouldn't need to change.

The bluing that happens has no effect on the strength of the lumber. It won't cause rot. When the board or stud dries, the fungus dies. Years ago, people liked blue streaks in the borders of knotty pine walls, so the sawmills would stack the boards from young ponderosas, which has sap wood that the blue fungus grows best. They leave the boards stacked together and in two weeks you have the bluing.

With fire-killed trees, they never burn through the bark, so when they run the logs through the barker, greener burned you can't tell if it was fire killed or not. From 2000 until lately the Forest Service has been selling timber so cheap that they are paying the mills to take it and the taxpayers are picking up the tab for the Forest Service's paperwork for these sales.

Ground that is open to the sun dries out, then comes the cost of slash, erosion, and tree planting that seldom takes, so new growth can't grow.

– Floyd Wood, Corvallis 

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