Hurricane Matthew caused over $200M in timber damage statewide

Hurricane Matthew caused over $200M in timber damage statewide
Source: SC Forestry Commission

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Forestry Commission estimates Hurricane Matthew related damage to the state's timber resources at $205 million.

The agency began assessing storm damage on a widespread scale Monday, Oct. 10, sending Forest Inventory & Analysis personnel and other foresters on a systematic survey of coastal plain counties to ground-truth aerial observations made previously by Commission pilots and other forest health professionals.

The storm primarily affected forested areas in the eastern half of South Carolina, and timber loss was widely scattered.

Where damage did occur it was significant, consisting of trees that were blown-down, uprooted, leaning more than 30 degrees or broken.

Most significant impacts were in the edges of stands, along ditches and waterways, and in recently thinned stands.

While some areas of the state experienced flooding, especially in the Pee Dee region, the Forestry Commission expects very minimal seedling mortality in these areas.

"On a statewide basis, a $205 million timber damage estimate represents less than one percent of the state's total timber value, and the economic impact from the storm will only be a small percentage of forestry's $18.6 billion annual contribution to the state's economy," State Forester Gene Kodama said. "However, for those individuals and mills who were impacted, the damage is very real; therefore, our focus right now is providing technical expertise to individual landowners and helping them access any federal financial assistance that will be available. "Fortunately, our forests and the industry they support are amazingly resilient and will bounce back from Matthew's impact."

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