Portable Sawmills Can Help With Clearing Storm-damaged Timber

Brian R. Chandler, De Hoop, Cornelis F., Batty, Jr., James, Morgan, Johnny W.

LSU AgCenter forestry specialist Dr. Don Reed demonstrates how to properly use a portable sawmill at a May 13 workshop at the AgCenter’s Idlewild Research Station near Clinton. More than 160 people, mainly from Lake Ponchartrain’s North Shore area, attended the workshop to get information about using such mills and whether purchasing one might benefit them in cleaning up the vast amounts of timber downed in last year’s storms.

LSU Agcenter professor Dr. Neils De Hoop shows how to properly use wood-cutting equipment while working with damaged timber. De Hoop demonstrated the use of chain saws and a variety of safety equipment during a workshop focused on helping landowners who still have vast amounts of downed timber to remove after last year’s hurricanes.

News Release Distributed 05/19/06

LSU AgCenter forester Brian Chandler says many people still need a way to cut and move timber that was damaged in last year’s hurricanes.

Although months have passed since the storms, Chandler said he’s seen that situation over and over again. So he brought together manufacturers of portable sawmills from as far away as Canada this month (May 13) to demonstrate their equipment.

The demonstrations, which attracted approximately 160 people mainly from Washington, Tangipahoa and St. Tammany parishes, were held at the LSU AgCenter’s Idlewild Research Station in Clinton.

Chandler, who is an LSU AgCenter area forester serving southeastern Louisiana, said the window of opportunity for getting some use from this timber is rapidly closing. The warmer weather already being seen in the state will cause fallen timber to decay much faster.

"We wanted to bring the portable sawmill manufacturers to a central location where the landowners could compare the different models and decide if this was an investment that was right for them," Chandler said.

Rusty Batty, an LSU AgCenter county agent in St. Tammany Parish, was one of those at the workshop and said there is quite a bit of timber still on the ground in his parish.

Batty said he’s still getting a lot of phone calls from people who want to know what they can do with this damaged timber.

"I let them know that there is still a limited opportunity for having some of the material cut up into rough lumber for board fencing or for barns or even for small sheds and things like that," Batty said.

The experts said they are seeing situations where bark is starting to flake off and insects are taking a toll on downed timber. So if it is to be used, the time is now, they say.

Batty said he thinks only about 10 percent of the people with damaged timber will buy a portable mill, but more probably would want to have one brought to their property and operated by someone else to clear the damaged timber.

One such landowner is Libby Bollich from St. Tammany Parish. Her property is located between Mandeville and Covington.

"My husband and I stayed for the storm, and from about 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., the winds were out of the north and we heard a fair amount of snapping trees and roaring," she said of Hurricane Katrina’s effects. "And then when the winds began to shift northwest and west we had a lot of uprooting as well."

Bollich said a good portion of their 31 acres, "you still cannot walk through—you crawl.

"We’re toying with the idea of buying a portable mill, but it’s just so much work," Bollich said. "We’ve so far been working with a chainsaw and a little John Deere 870 tractor, and even with that, we are only able to clear about an acre per month."

In addition to the portable sawmill demonstrations, speakers discussed buying your first portable sawmill, comparing log scale to lumber tally, drying small quantities of lumber and how to saw logs on portable sawmills.

LSU AgCenter professor Dr. Neils De Hoop from its School of Renewable Natural Resources also provided a demonstration that covered a variety of topics ranging from how to measure timber to the proper way to handle a chain saw and the various pieces of safety equipment needed for working with one.

For additional information on portable sawmills, contact an agent in your parish’s LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.


Brian Chandler at (225) 683-3101 or bchandler@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Rusty Batty at (985) 875-2635 or rbatty@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Neils De Hoop at (225) 578-4131 or cdehoop@agcenter.lsu.edu
Johnny Morgan at (225) 281-0814 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

5/20/2006 2:34:05 AM
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