No one got rich off Tubbs Hill’s trees, but the city and Idaho Forest Industries got what they wanted.
“This was kind of a community service,” said Mike Welling, IFI’s vice president of resources. “We wanted to make sure the job was done right and the city got something in return.”
The city will get a check for about $16,400 from IFI, the contractor. The money will go toward trail and bridge repair, and the cost of removing the slash left on the hill.
Any remaining money will go to the Tubbs Hill Committee for future park improvements, said Ken Thompson, Coeur d’Alene city administrator.
IFI was able to pull 164,000 board feet - about 50 truck loads - of merchantable timber off Tubbs Hill in the past two weeks. The city got $100 per 1,000 board feet.
“We didn’t make any money,” Welling said. The city chose to have the hill helicopter-logged. But the helicopter cost $1,800 an hour. It flew logs off the hill for 54 hours, Welling said.
But profit wasn’t the point.
“Our goal was more of an education process,” Welling said. “I think that a lot of people have learned that the forests are dynamic. They do change….People have become a lot more aware of forest health and what can be done.”
The city declared an emergency and closed Tubbs Hill after last November’s ice storm pummeled trees in the popular natural park. The park has re-opened.
City officials were in a rush to log the hill because of the danger of falling trees and the threat of a fir beetle infestation come spring.
The city still plans to remove the remaining twigs, branches, downed tops and other woody debris before it dries out and poses a fire danger.
“There isn’t a good way to get it off,” said Chuck Hosack, chairman of the Tubbs Hill Committee.
Among the options are hauling a chipper to the hill, scattering the debris, carrying it off the hill, or burning it in small slash piles.
Overall, committee members and city officials are pleased with the results. They toured the hill Wednesday, and didn’t find the hill heavily logged - as some citizens feared.
“I was surprised at how good it looks,” Hosack said. “There’s almost no trace of logging activity. In terms of even finding stumps, they really aren’t that noticeable.”
Thompson hasn’t been in the park yet, but he’s happy IFI took care of the city’s problem so efficiently.
“IFI guaranteed that they’d take care of the job and give us $100 per thousand board feet. They guaranteed we wouldn’t take the loss,” Thompson said. “That was a big help for us.”
After Tubbs Hill, IFI logged Higgens Point. Starting Monday, the firm will buy the logs being helicoptered off the Bureau of Land Management’s Mineral Ridge area.
After that, IFI will get ready to salvage-log the damaged timber on its own property, Welling said.
“These three jobs, they’re kind of a drop in the bucket for what is around us right now,” he said.