How bad were Western fires in 2020?
As of the end of October, Six-million acres will have burned across Oregon, Washington and California.
The fires combined with the chaos of Covid-19 on mill production and distribution has caused lumber prices to skyrocket by 120% at the end of September.
An estimated 900 million* harvestable trees were destroyed plus approximately twice that number of immature trees. In addition, several lumber mills were destroyed along with all the inventory of previously harvested lumber. Many logging operations lost all of their equipment in the fires.
To give you an idea of the magnitude, we lost enough lumber to build 23 million homes which would have been enough to replace 1 of every four single family homes in the US.
A mature and healthy forest has less than 100 trees per acre. One of the many forest management problems we face today is that the density of trees has become as heavy as 300-400 per acre in some areas. This creates a thicket and fire hazard instead of a forest.
The good news (if there is any) is that as terrible as it is it lose 6 million acres of forest, it is still less than the 9-million acres lost in 2018, and the 10-million acres lost in 2017.
The total lumber lost in the last four years would have replaced every home, apartment and condo in the US.
*Let’s say the harvestable trees amount to an average of only 150 per acre, then this last summer in Oregon, Washington and California where six million acres have burned so far 900 million marketable trees have been lost. During the last four years nearly 30 million acres have been lost to fires.