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Timber losses from Hurricane Ida significant

On August 29, Hurricane Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana as a Category 4 storm and became the second-most damaging hurricane to strike the state on record (Hurricane Katrina holds the top spot). Though not nearly as severe as the storm surge from Katrina, Ida also inflicted widespread flooding across the state and caused over $18 billion in damage. Source: Forest2Market

The LSU AgCenter is now actively assessing the agricultural damage from Hurricane Ida.

“Given the geographic area affected, the biggest economic impact is likely to be to agricultural infrastructure and timber,” said Kurt Guidry, LSU AgCenter region director and agricultural economist. “But sugarcane, livestock, soybeans, fruit and vegetable crops, and the horticulture industry also experienced losses.”

Per The Advocate in Baton Rouge, “Upwards of 20% of the timberlands across Louisiana are estimated to be lost by the storm.” Kurt Guidry added, “If you draw a line from Terrebonne Parish north to the Felicianas, everything east will see some damage.”

This includes the area within the cone in the image below, which was identified using the Timber Supply Analysis 360 tool in the SilvaStat360 platform. Looking more specifically at regional timber damage, Guidry estimates that the impacted area represents about 5% to as high as 22% of total timber production in Louisiana.

Continued flyovers by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry will determine final losses.

In the wake of a catastrophic natural disaster, there are a number of considerations that impact timberland owners and consumers of wood raw materials in these damaged zones.I mportant timberland data pertaining to the area within this particular cone (via Timber

Supply Analysis 360) include:

  • 6 million acres of privately-owned pine
  • 145 million tons of total inventory; 45 million tons of pine species inventory
  • GRR for loblolly and shortleaf pines (most prevalent pine species): 1.83
  • Roughly 21 million tons of pine are in the 16 to 30-year age classes

The Daily Star in Hammond, LA also recently published a piece that features an interview with a local forester who draws some important distinctions between the damage sustained from Hurricanes Katrina and Ida.

The ground was fairly dry and firm prior to Katrina’s landfall and while some trees were blown over during that storm, most of them snapped due to the sustained high winds.

However, The Daily Star notes “This time, the ground was so wet that they just fell over. Before Hurricane Ida made landfall, 82 inches of rain had already fallen in the Husser area this year. Ida brought over 20 more inches of rain … bringing the amount of rain this year well over 100 inches for the year.”

This is a fluid situation while the LSU AgCenter continues its ongoing assessment of damage.