By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER
After almost six years of planning, appeals and changing regulations, the Sammy Timber Sale finally sold.
Sierra Pacific Industries bought the timber for $155,595, well over the minimum required bid of $89,289. SPI placed the only bid on the sale, which was opened for sealed bidding on July 2 and closed on Tuesday.
The sale will allow SPI to thin approximately 300 acres of ponderosa pine, sugar pine, white fir, and incense cedar that surround Cold Springs subdivision, providing a fire break for the 500-home neighborhood.
This will result in approximately 1.4 million board feet being removed from the Mi-Wok Ranger District of Stanislaus National Forest, said Dan Young, resource management program area leader for the forest.
The Forest Service has 30 days to formally award the bid, but "that could be expedited and they could start anytime," Young said. SPI has until March 31, 2005, to harvest the timber.
Chris Conrad, forester for the SPI mill in Standard, said he hopes to have crews in the woods before the snow flies, and finish harvesting the timber some time next summer.
If the snows come late, Conrad said, crews could have the project completed this year.
The sale was applauded by local loggers, homeowners and environmentalists.
"I'm thrilled about it, absolutely thrilled about it," said Jason Reed, president of the Cold Springs Property Owners Association. "It's going to be an important step, one of several I hope, that will reduce fire dangers for property owners in the high country."
The original sale, which took four years to plan, was held up for almost another two years. The environmental group Forest Conservation Council, based in Santa Fe, N.M., filed an appeal claiming the proposed sale needed more watershed analysis. Regional Forester Brad Powell, who has since been transferred from the Forest Service's Sierra Nevada region to Montana, agreed with the group and ordered the study.