Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Georgia officials debate price of rare submerged logs


Ledger Enquirer
By Greg Bluestein
December 07, 2005

ATLANTA - Georgia's environmental officials clashed Wednesday over how to price deadhead logs, the valuable lumber that sank into rivers decades ago while being rafted to ports and sawmills during the heyday of Southern logging.

Ultimately, the board of the state's Department of Natural Resources decided to ask the state's top attorney for advice on setting the price, but not before opposing board members warned the group it was in danger of a lawsuit.

"These items are so unique. They're irreplaceable," said Tom Wheeler, a member of the board from Duluth. "How do you price something so unique? I'm just not comfortable when I see how much it's sold for."

The concern is that the rate the department suggests, $1.28 per board foot, violates the state's constitution because it's priced so far below market value. The wood from the submerged logs is revered for its tight grain and colors such as blond, caramel and black. It's up to 10 times more valuable than conventional wood.

Some environmentalists also fear the proposed rates wouldn't fund the safeguards they say are needed to painstakingly extract the submerged logs.

Retrieving the valuable logs from river bottoms has been illegal in Georgia since 1998 because of legal and environmental concerns. But earlier this year, state lawmakers approved legislation allowing underwater logging for two years on parts of the Flint and Altamaha rivers mostly in south Georgia.

An estimated 3 to 5 percent of the millions of logs sent down the rivers in the 19th and 20th centuries sank to the bottom before they reached their destination. These "deadheads," also known as "sinkers," remain well-preserved on river bottoms.

Board member Warren Budd urged the board to ask Attorney General Thurbert Baker for a written opinion on the issue, rather than advice, but he was told it could take months. He was one of three members overruled by the board's majority on the issue.

"I don't think we need to be paranoid over this procedure. We've done an extreme amount of due diligence," said Bob Rutland, a board member from Decatur.

"The fact that both sides aren't pleased with the prices makes me think we did a good job," he said.


Interesting blog. Keep up the good work.


Johnny Reb
Bartow County
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