How Mass Timber Could Help Reduce Wildfire Risk

Freres Lumber had clear-cut this stand of forest to harvest it, but it became tinder for the recent fires before the logs could be removed.

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The burgeoning industry has the potential to drastically reduce the carbon footprint of buildings, but also help with wildfire mitigation.

By / Lydia Lee

In September, severe wildfires began ravaging forested areas in Oregon, ultimately burning 1 million acres. The state’s lumber industry was hit hard, including Freres Lumber, located in in Santiam Canyon, in the foothills of the Cascades. The nearly-100-year-old company lost about 7,500 acres out of its 17,000 acres of timberland to the flames. Fortunately, its production facilities remained intact, including a three-year-old $40 million mass timber plant. But despite the recent setbacks, the company thinks it has a good path forward. “We truly believe that [our mass timber product] is a win-win situation not only for the environment, but also for our forests, by encouraging proper forest management, and for our local communities, which have suffered due to a lack of economic activity since the early ‘90s,” says Kyle Freres, vice president of operations at the family-owned company.