Timber production has quadrupled on the Fishlake National Forest during the past two years and is projected to reach 12 million board feet this year.

In Utah's adjacent southern forest, the Dixie National Forest, timber production reached 17.6 million board feet during the 1997 fiscal year.Fishlake's timber sale program is being enhanced through a national timber pilot program that was initiated in June 1997. Forest Supervisor Rob Mrowka said the purpose of that project is to find new and innovative ways of using timber sales to help achieve diverse vegetation management goals. Timber harvesting is an important tool for managing forests and supporting local communities, he said.

"The removal and use of trees for lumber and other purposes is important to the local communities and it is important to use as we attempt to maintain or restore healthy conditions to these public lands," Mrowka said.

For instance, Sevier County received $68,500 as its share of land-use fees and sale of resources on the Fishlake and Manti-LaSal National forests, just a small part of a $1.3 million distribution throughout Utah.

The Fishlake National Forest was selected last spring as one of 213 forests nationwide to participate in the national timber pilot program.

The value of forest timber sales to communities is pointed out by Supervisor Hugh Thompson on the Dixie National Forest. He said sales in fiscal 1997 provided an estimated $13,950,000 in income to communities and sustained 279 local jobs. He reported that 25 percent of the revenue generated from the timber sale program is returned to the counties in which the forest lies and this amounted to $321,172 during the fiscal year. The funds are used for roads and schools. The program also generated $2,092,000 in federal income taxes, Thompson said.

The supervisor noted that other benefits of the timber program are improved forest health and wildlife habitat, landscape diversity, tree growth, access to recreation opportunities and production of wood products. Wood products include lumber, firewood, posts, poles and Christmas trees.

Christmas tree sales will soon be under way on both forests and initial and oral bids for 21 separate commercial sales is schedule Oct. 6 at the Beaver Ranger District office. Information about the sales may be obtained by contacting the supervisor's office in Richfield for the Fishlake Forest at 435-896-9233.