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County timber sales reflect slump in logging industry overall; prices down

Evidence that the logging industry is suffering became apparent when only half the usual bidders showed up for a recent Hubbard County timber auction.

Fifteen loggers submitted bids to remove 15 parcels of forestland Sept. 8. All parcels except one were auctioned off; county forester Bob Hoffman said the remaining parcel will be sold over the counter.

In total, 9,050 cords of wood will be removed. The county will earn $188,003.15 from the sale.

But prices are depressed, Hoffman said, because the building industry is in a slump.

Mixed aspen, which sold for $29 a cord at the county's last auction, and $28 in January, is now only fetching $22 at the mills.

But mixed jackpine prices were up slightly, selling for $34.82 a cord.

Overall, Hoffman said income from county timber sales have fallen by 20 percent in the past year or so.

"It's sad," said county commissioner Cal Johannsen of the number of bidders. "That's probably all we have left."