Louisiana timber crop next to report significant damage from Hurricane Laura

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(KTVE/KARD) “We are in uncharted territory. We have never seen devastation like this to our timber industry” says Representative Jack McFarland of District 13 in Louisiana. He is also a member of the Louisiana Logger’s Association and a local timber logger.

The industry in charge of providing everything from boxes to toilet and printer paper to lumber is joining the long list of many crops in Louisiana significantly impacted by Hurricane Laura.

“You’re going to have land owners who will lose their retirement because they put their retirement into timber and land. You will have land owners who grew timber for their child’s college education” McFarland said.

The storm destroyed $50 million worth of trees in Winn parish, with another 110 million lost in Grant parish. The state has lost $1.1 billion so far, and insurance on timber crops is not common among loggers.

“Hurricane Laura did do more damage than hurricane’s Katrina and Rita combined” McFarland said.

Time is ticking to make the most of out the situation. Loggers are trying to process as much as possible before it goes to waste, as they only have three to six more weeks to harvest damaged or fallen trees. Only 10 percent of this is expected to be saved.

Cuts and closures due to COVID-19 are causing local paper mills to be overwhelmed. Only time knows how big the loss is, as it takes about 25-30 years for a timber crop to mature.

“In future years, you’re going to have a void where’s there’s not going to be the timber available to be harvested” McFarland said.

There could be some unique relief coming for loggers through the Logger’s Relief Act, which, should it pass Congress, would be the first ever bill to help the hurting industry.

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