CORVALLIS — U.S. Forest Service officials are hoping that a contract for snipping holiday greenery will allow the agency to get a little extra money out of a thinning project near the summit of Marys Peak.
The agency said it's taking out some of the noble firs that have encroached on scenic wildflower meadows on the peak in the Siuslaw National Forest.
The noble firs aren't worth much at current prices, and likely will go for firewood or be dropped into streams for fish habitat.
But making the fir boughs available for sale should bring in an extra $11,000 or so for the Forest Service, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported.
A Lebanon company, Handmade Wreaths, won the bough contract. Owner Robert Hand, his father and assistants worked through an early snow last week to snip the most promising-looking branches from the lower branches.
Hand said noble fir is prized for holiday decorations for its long-lasting foliage, with a distinctive blue tinge.
Some of the greenery will be twisted into wreaths for sale at his family's roadside stand or by school and church groups as fundraisers. Some will be sold to bigger companies for use in wreaths or holiday swags.
"Since we're doing the meadow restoration, we decided we might as well sell all the merchantable product," said Kraig Kidwell, the timber sale administrator for the Siuslaw. "And these are pretty high-value noble fir boughs."
For public land managers such as Kidwell, nontimber forest products can be a way to maximize receipts while achieving management objectives such as thinning forests.
But traditional timber harvesting still dwarfs the value of nontimber forest products on most public land.