Louisiana’s Wildfire Losses Estimated at $71 Million but Predicted to Climb Higher as Fires Continue

According to estimates from the LSU AgCenter reviewed by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report (11-3-23), wildfires during this summer’s record-breaking heat and drought dealt a blow of at least $71 million to Louisiana’s timber sector.

Robbie Hutchins, an area forester with the LSU AgCenter, said a total of 52,883 acres of forests statewide had burned as of mid-October. Most of that timber would normally be worth at least $1,500 per acre, and little of it is salvageable now.

Conservatively, Hutchins estimates 75% of trees on burned acreage are a total loss or considerably devalued, amounting to a loss of about $60 million. But the percentage of unsellable timber is likely closer to 90%, putting the loss estimate at $71 million. That figure could be higher, depending on whether the damaged areas were populated by smaller trees destined for pulpwood production or larger, more valuable ones that could have been used for sawtimber.

Timber is Louisiana’s top agricultural commodity, generating more than $10 billion yearly in economic activity. Logging companies, sawmills, and other forestry businesses are major employers in areas such as Beauregard, Vernon, and Rapides parishes, which suffered some of the worst wildfire damage.

FEA compiles the Wood Markets News from various 3rd party sources to provide readers with the latest news impacting forest product markets. Opinions or views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of FEA.