Darby sale up for bids again

April 28, 2003 12:00 am

By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER

The Brown Darby Salvage Timber Sale was readvertised Thursday, but potential buyers Friday still question whether the logs are worth bidding on.

The 6 million board-foot sale — enough wood for 400 homes — was first put out for bid April 1. The trees advertised were those burned in the September 2001 Darby Fire south of Arnold near the Calaveras County line.

But when April 14 rolled around — the last day to turn in offers — Stanislaus National Forest officials had no bids to open.

Before the sale was first advertised, many loggers criticized the U.S. Forest Service for taking a year and a half to put the trees on the market.

When they finally went up for bid, many people said insects, rot and disease had deteriorated the logs so much that — after paying the Forest Service's minimum bid and their own harvesting expenses — companies could not turn a profit.

One sale requirement is that the buyer clear and stack biomass — trees too small for sawlogs, but big enough to fuel a fire. Sierra Pacific Industries Forester Chris Conrad last week said that had further soured the sale.

Stanislaus officials revamped sale details before readvertising it Thursday, and took out the biomass requirement.

"Hopefully that's going to be enough to have it pencil out for any potential bidder," said Dan Young, who oversees timber programs on the Stanislaus forest.

Conrad said he was happy to see the readvertised timber sale, but could not say yet if the company would submit a bid.

"If they package it so it's economically viable, then we're interested," he said.

However, Conrad said he was disappointed the Forest Service raised the bottom bidding price along with removing the biomass requirement.