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Lumber Recovery from Young-Growth Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce in Southeast Alaska

Issues

  • Understanding the lumber product value and economic potential of young-growth timber from the Tongass National Forest is identified as a high-priority in the Tongass Management Plan (TLMP).
  • Little is known about how fluting in Hemlock and thinning affect wood quality in young-growth timber.
  • More information is needed on the mechanical properties of lumber from Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce.

Smith Cove, Prince of Wales Island, AK

This study examines lumber produced from thinned and unthinned stands of Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce to provide managers with quantitative information on the commercial potential of the young-growth forest resources in southeast Alaska. Previous lumber recovery studies in southeast Alaska exclusively examined old-growth Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce, a minor component timber available for future harvest. Proposed management practices (e.g. thinning) under TLMP are applied to the young growth resource and may affect the yield and quality of future products.Board numbering in sawmill

Findings

  • Volume recovery was low but is similar to results from past lumber recovery studies in SE Alaska.
  • Yield of high quality lumber was high, but these stands were thinned late and grew slowly. Had they been early and grown fast as proposed under TLMP, yield of high quality lumber may be significantly less. This is currently being investigated.
  • No difference was found between thinned and unthinned stands, likely due to the late thinning.
  • Fluted Western Hemlock produced slightly less volume but was of equal quality.
  • Mechanical properties of lumber produced from young-growth resource are at least as good as the traditional timber resource.

Contact: Glenn Christiensen Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland (503) 808-2000, Kent Julin, Marin County, Woodacre CA (415) 499-3759, or Robert Ross, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison WI (608) 231-9221.