LAKE SHORE -- Land Commissioner Norm Moody reported to the county board Tuesday the April 28 county timber auction brought a record high $81.47 per cord price for aspen trees.
Markets rise and fall or level off, he said in an interview Wednesday, but he acknowledged the trend for aspen in recent years has been a steady rise.
He attributed some of the increased value to the fact wood processing companies have increased efficiencies in their processing plants and developed ways to use more of each log. They also have found ways to combine birch and other species with aspen in creating products, he said.
Reflecting on changes over the years, Moody recalled about 35 years ago landowners like the county were hiring companies to grind up aspen shoots to prevent regeneration, because the thinking then was that aspen was a useless tree. It sold for $1.50 per cord 28 years ago.
With the increase in chipboard and stran-type structural board production in the intervening years, aspen has become more highly regarded. It also is used in paper and cardboard production.
Cass has had an overabundance of aspen on county-managed land that is about the same age. The land department's cutting strategy has been to cut the last 15 years in blocks of land scattered throughout the county in about equal amounts each year to create a future age rotation to produce all prime wood in each future year.
Moody said it will be 10 to 15 years before the county catches up with eliminating this overabundance of trees ripe for cutting at one time and moves into being able to offer for sale all prime, ripe timber that is mature, yet not over-mature in succeeding years.
At the April sale, red and white pine saw timber trees sold for $180 per board foot.
Per cord prices loggers paid for other tree species were: $35.10, birch; $25, black spruce; $29.61, maple; $37.73, balsam fir; $35.20, balsam poplar; $47.39, basswood; $49.87, jackpine; $48.07, red oak; $48.22, spruce; $7 tamarack; and $41.60, white spruce.
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