Chelan County is moving forward with plans for a Forest Products Campus in the upcoming new year. 

Overcrowded young trees will be removed from the forest and processed for use as lumber products on the market. 

County Commissioner Kevin Overbay says the concept makes a lot of sense for Chelan County. 

"Forest health is a huge issue," said Overbay. "We've got one of the highest volatile areas for wildfire on the west coast, right here in our county. And so, the ability for us to be able to site a forest product campus to start to take care of some of those prescriptive measures." 

There's well-documented research that has shown that the thinning of overcrowded young trees as well as prescribed fires go a long to reduce the risk of wildfires. 

Chelan County has been hit with 53 wildfires of 1,000 or more acres in the last 20 years.  

More than 80 percent of the land in Chelan County is owned mostly by federal and state agencies.  

The U.S. Forest Service is the largest landowner, owning 1.3 million of the 1.9 million acres of government owned land. 

Much of that land is in the central and eastern parts of Chelan County and is categorized as having a high or very high risk of forest fires. 

Overbay says the harvested timber will also be put to good use in the marketplace. 

"To be able to create cross-laminated timber and other products that would aid in dropping the cost for the building industry." 

It's not yet known what will be built for the Forest Products Campus, but it could include a sawmill and a mass timber facility. The a possibility the campus could located in the Malaga area.

The Chelan County Natural Resources Department has raised $532,000 in federal, county and private dollars to explore its forest products campus project.  

The U.S. Forest Service recently awarded the department a $266,000 Wood Innovations Grant.  

The county is providing $166,000 in matching dollars and Vaagen Timbers of Colville is providing $100,000 in matching contributions as well. 

US Forest Service Public Lands Day

Get out your gloves and help the great outdoors!

Gallery Credit: Nicole Sherwood

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