Here’s a link to the Wall Street Journal article. Below are excerpts.
Paul Moreno, a spokesman for PG&E, called the stacks “temporary log-staging areas” that are part of the normal transportation chain. The utility, he added, is educating some contractors who mistakenly piled the logs in fields where they don’t belong.
George Gentry, senior vice president of the California Forestry Council trade group, said the biggest threat posed by the log decks is the insects they may attract. The insects may go on to attack surrounding trees, which would dry them out and make them more flammable. “You really don’t want to leave big stacks of logs around your community,” Mr. Gentry said.
The recent logging is part of an effort to remove an estimated 300,000 highly flammable dead and dying trees in Butte County, which remains at high risk of another catastrophic inferno, according to local officials…
Mark Wilson was hired by a contractor that works for PG&E to cut down trees around Paradise, located 90 miles north of Sacramento. One morning last week, he unloaded freshly cut timber from the back of his flatbed trailer in a field just outside Paradise filled with hundreds of similarly discarded logs. He said he had no other options.
“The mills are full, so we have to take the wood here,” Mr. Wilson said as his white pickup truck idled.
According to federal data, there are only 25 sawmills in California, down from more than 100 in the 1980s, due in large part to curtailed logging in national forests over environmental concerns. The number of biomass plants, another option for disposing of trees, has fallen to about two dozen from 66 in the 1990s, in part due to the expiration of government price subsidies, according to the California Energy Commission.
Most remaining sawmills are running at capacity, and owners are reluctant to expand due to fears that demand won’t stay high beyond the current glut, said Rich Gordon, chief executive of the California Forestry Association, a timber trade group.
“It’s the Achilles’ heel of the whole situation,” said Calli-Jane DeAnda, executive director of the Butte County Fire Safe Council, a nonprofit group. “We can write grants to get rid of these trees, but where do you put them?”