09-24 pal forest-02

A plan to clear the timber from Palestine's Community Forest could result in healthy growth for the trees, and a profit for the city.

Members of the Palestine City Council will consider on Monday a plan to clear trees and brush from nearly 1,000 acres of community forest – and turn it into cash.

Who said money doesn't grow on trees?

The plan calls for the city to contract with Texas A&M Forestry Service to clear trees and brush from the nearly 1,000 acres spread throughout four tracts in the city. Wooded areas by Palestine Airport are also in the clearing plan.

Proceeds from resulting timber sales would be split: 90% to the city and 10% to the Forestry Service – a customary split with governmental entities throughout the state.

“It's been a long-standing agreement, even before my time,” District Forester Buster Robinson told the Herald-Press Monday. “The last time we did something like this had to be almost 12 years ago, though.”

Foresters don't do any tree cutting, Robinson said. Instead, they act as consultants for the project, and consider bids from contractors.

“We have an inventory in place of the types of timber [in the forest],” he said. “We'll review bids from companies who will give us a certain amount for each type, and pick the one that best suits our needs.”

Robinson said he couldn't speculate on potential profits from timber sales; city council members must first determine the scope of the project.

The plan to clear the forest, Robinson said, could not have come at a better time. Thick brush has impeded the growth of pine trees – an attractive tree with profitable timber.

“Our area hasn't been intensely managed in decades,” he said. “It's time to do some thinning. Once we do, we can do some control burns and better manage the forest.”

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