East Texas Forest Economy Takes Huge Hit from Wildfires
We’ve known for some time that this year’s wildfire season has been the worst in the state’s history, but now we know what that means in dollars and cents for the east Texas timber industry.
The Texas Forest Service reports over the last 10 months, east Texas wildfires have wiped out more than $97 million worth of the region’s trees.
Since wildfire season began on November 15th of last year, firefighters in east Texas have responded to more than 2100 wildfires that burned more than 207 thousand acres of forests and grasslands.
TFS economists and analysts say the fires destroyed 175 million cubic feet of timber. The total value of all those trees as they stood in the forest was $97 million dollars, but that huge number doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.
TFS says $97 million dollars worth of timber could have produced $1.6 billion worth of different forest products — such as homes, furniture and paper. The total economic impact will be nearly $3.4 billion dollars. Thousands of jobs will be affected or even lost.
The devastation isn’t just financial and economic. It’s also ecological. TFS says the wildfires could ultimately alter the forest’s ability to perform essential functions like sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, providing clean water, preventing soil erosion and providing habitat for wildlife.
Something to think about the next time you’re out camping and think about building a fire to cook something. Or the next time you throw a lit cigarette or cigar out your car window.