Fort McCoy News February 14, 2014

Timber harvest improves training capability for YAAS

Public Affairs Staff

A timber sale on South Post is supporting Fort McCoy's strategic objectives, improving Young Air Assault Strip (YAAS) and generating revenue for future forestry initiatives.

Photo 1 for Timber article
Charles Mentzel, Fort McCoy Forestry technician, stands back and watches from a safe distance as a log processor cuts trees into specific log lengths Jan. 15. The work was part of a timber sale and harvest near Young Air Assault Strip on South Post.

"The sale was initiated to improve YAAS by removing trees that are impacting the flight path of aircraft into the airstrip," said James Kerkman, Fort McCoy forester.

Joseph Bollig and Sons, Inc., of Mauston, Wis., is completing the timber harvest, Kerkman said.

The sale, which pays the Army more than $26,000, was awarded in December 2012 and has an estimated volume of 695 cords and 67,000 board feet of timber.

"Cords are typically sent to the paper mills in the Wisconsin Rapids area and made into paper pulp," Kerkman added. "The board feet are larger logs used to make lumber."

The harvest supports Fort McCoy's strategic objective of enhancing the post's military training value through improved area utilization and land use initiatives.

James Hubbard, chief of the Airfield Division at the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS), said the timber harvest will help improve the training use of the airstrip by removing obstacles from the ends of the runway and allow for the full utilization of the area.

The "full utilization" includes a safer glide path for U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, which support the U.S. Army's airborne and assault missions.

Photo 2 for Timber article
Charles Mentzel, Fort McCoy Forestry technician, scales logs as part of coordination on a timber sale and harvest near the Young Air Assault Strip.

The assault mission, for example, is defined by Department of Defense joint publications as "a phase of an airborne operation beginning with delivery by air and extending through the consolidation of the initial airhead."

"This sale and harvest is noteworthy because we are improving a training mission on Fort McCoy (the airstrip) with close coordination by the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) and DPTMS, and the Army is saving money by not having to pay for the initial tree removal," Kerkman said.

At the timber harvest site, Forestry Technician Charles Mentzel said the work being done now is a culmination of months of preparation. He also said the current weather conditions are making the harvest go quite smoothly.

"I set this sale up in August of 2012, marking the areas for timber sale," Mentzel said. "The cold temperatures we've had the past few weeks have been ideal for the tree removal by freezing these swampy areas. It's actually the first time in nearly 10 years we've been able to work in the swamps."

Mentzel added he is glad to see how the work is coming to fruition and eventually will lead to a better training environment for all who will use the airstrip in coming years.

"From a forestry perspective, our mission here, first and foremost, is to serve the Army and create training environments that better serve our Soldiers who support future missions in defense of this country," Mentzel said. "While we build on that training mission, at the same time, we find a balance to improve and protect the natural resources of Fort McCoy for years to come."

When the timber harvest is complete, Kerkman said a Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance (LRAM) crew will use a severe-duty shredder to grind the tree tops and branches left over from logging (called slash) and knock down the smaller trees the logger did not take. The LRAM crew is part of the DPTMS Integrated Training Area Maintenance program, which coordinates natural resource management and training activities.

As far as when the first C-130 or C-17 might use the new-and-improved airstrip area, Hubbard said it could be as soon as April with Combat Support Training Exercise and Global Medic exercise. The time frame is dependent on when spring break-up takes place and frost is completely lifted and dried out from the ground.

The value of standing timber at Fort McCoy is estimated at $5.6 million, Kerkman said.

More than 295,000 cords and 21 million board feet of commercial timber currently are growing on Fort McCoy. On average, timber sales produce an annual revenue of $200,000.

Timber sales are administered by the Omaha District, Corps of Engineers and are sold by sealed bid.

One timber sale bid opening is held each year, typically scheduled in December. Revenue from the timber sales goes into an Armywide forestry account and is returned to fund forestry projects on Fort McCoy.

For more information on Fort McCoy Forestry, contact Kerkman at 608-388-2102.