Less than two months after fire, IDL poised to sell 21.6 million board feet of salvaged timber

Wednesday September 8, 2021

(Orofino, Idaho) Tomorrow the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) will offer more than 21.6 million board feet of timber damaged in the Cougar Rock Complex Fire at public auction to the highest bidder.  The Cougar Rock Complex Fire began on July 7 and consumed more than 8,100 acres.

The auction for the Benton North Cedar Salvage Sale begins at 1 pm PT at the IDL office in Orofino.  The sale, which covers 1,210 acres approximately 14 miles north of Headquarters, overlooks Dworshak Reservoir.

When milled into boards, the salvage sale includes enough volume to build more than 1,300 average homes.  However, it’s highly unlikely all the timber salvaged will become common framing materials as there is a high volume of cedar included in the offering, just over 12 million board feet.  Although scarred by fire, this cedar is still one Idaho’s most valuable forest products and estimated to be worth at least $573.40 per thousand board feet.

IDL expects the Benton North Cedar Salvage Sale to sell for at least $7.2 million.

“Fire alone is costly enough,” said IDL director Dustin Miller.  “The timber damaged by wildfire has residual value that must be captured before insects and disease render the dead and dying trees worthless.”

The decay process starts immediately.  “To ensure valuable timber resources do not go to waste, we must act quickly,” added Miller.  Before the last embers of wildfires are extinguished on endowment forestland, IDL begins preparing damaged timber for sale.

Extracting every cent of value from endowment timber is crucial for IDL.  The department manages about one million acres of timberland under a mandate to generate funding for beneficiaries like public schools, colleges and universities and state veterans’ homes.

To participate in the auction, eligible bidders for tomorrow’s sale must bring a certified check or bank draft bid deposit of $719,844, which is 10% of the sale’s appraised value.