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Monday, May 23, 2011 - 3:57am

Natural Disasters Cause Single Year Worst Timber Loss

A state agency says Georgia timber growers are suffering from record losses after wildfires in March and tornadoes in April wiped out 301 square miles of forest statewide.

James Johnson of the Georgia Forestry Commission estimates the 193,000 acres in lost trees is costing landowners nearly $88 million. He says that's the worst timber damage from natural disasters in Georgia ever recorded in a single year.

Efforts to salvage the damaged timber have resulted in a glut of wood at Georgia mills, driving down lumber prices that are already low as the construction industry struggles.

Tom Houston (HOUSE-ton) of Ludowici lost most of his 400 acres to a wildfire in March. He says he was lucky to make 20 cents for every dollar the trees would otherwise have been worth.