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Michael caused "catastrophic loss," timber damage estimated at $1.3 billion

Timber damage from Michael estimated at $1.3 billion.JPG
Posted at 10:30 AM, Oct 19, 2018
and last updated 2019-09-30 08:40:43-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Hurricane Michael caused an estimated $1.3 billion in damage to nearly 3 million acres of forestland, according to Florida officials.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service announced Friday the estimated value of timber damage in Florida due to Hurricane Michael is $1.3 billion, impacting nearly 3 million acres of forestland.

“This is a catastrophic loss to the forest industry in the Florida Panhandle,” said Commissioner Adam H. Putnam. “We are committed to helping Florida recover from this devastating storm and will continue to work closely with the agriculture industry on hurricane-related damage assessments.”

Officials say the 11 counties impacted are some of the top timber-producing in the state, including Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla and Washington counties.

Forest products manufacturing facilities, such as pulp-mills, saw-mills and pellet and Oriented Strand Board manufacturing, also sustained damage.

 “As the downed forest debris dries, the potential for wildfire conditions increase,” said Jim Karels, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “It is critical for the Florida Forest Service to continue clearing trees and hurricane debris from roadways to reestablish fire lines and accessibility to timberlands."