The Labor Day wildfires in the Santiam Canyon in Oregon are just about out, but they consumed almost everything in their path. The Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires displaced more than 1,200 residents, destroyed more than 500 homes and consumed 400,000 acres of forest lands, both public and private. The long process of rebuilding homes and lives has begun. For the Freres family, which has lived near Lyons since 1875 and operated wood products businesses there since 1922, that rebirth will take decades, not months or years. The work is already underway as loggers with chainsaws and heavy equipment operators are falling trees on Freres timberlands as quickly as possible, sorting them by size and fire damage and shipping them to the company’s mills. And the family plans to keep up that pace as long as there are viable trees left on the 7,500 acres of their 17,500 acres of tree farms that burned. Aaron Hutchinson is one of six Freres company foresters. Hutchinson said, the company usually plants 300,000 to 400,000 tree seedlings per year. “We’ve ordered 700,000, then 2.2 million and 2.5 million for each of the next two years.”
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No time to waste: Freres begins post-wildfire timber salvage