The recent winter weather has caused some problems for timber owners statewide

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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- From snow and ice last week to 80° weather this week, we have definitely seen a wild ride when it comes to weather, but even as our temperatures have improved some are still struggling because of the winter weather.

"It's been a real busy couple of weeks for the forestry commission," said Scott Hawkins.

Hawkins is the public information director for the South Carolina Forestry Commission.

He said, "Obviously the ice storm is a big issue for the state's forest land owners, it is a big issue for our agency also because we are still in the throes of determining how extensive the ice damage was."

Hawkins said even though the ice has melted, the commission faces other challenges as we head into the heart of fire season.

"Now we've got an added fuel load thanks to the ice storm and the weekend coming up, people are going to be burning off debris that may have fallen because of the storm or accumulated over a wet winter and anytime you have more debris burning, you have more wildfires," said Hawkins.

This time of the year the risk for wildfires increase in our state, even as the commission is still working on damage assessments from the ice storm, the commission stresses landowners should be patient when it comes to deciding what to do to damaged and fallen timber.

"They know that the marketability of any timber that has fallen has a shelf life, it will degrade, there is time though to get the help of an expert and by that I mean a consulting forester," according to Hawkins.

According to the forestry commission, landowners also can protect themselves by taking pictures of the damage, knowing the approximate value of the fallen timber, getting more than one bid when selling the timber, checking references and making sure you have a well-written contract.

Even though this may be a tough time for foresters, Hawkins says the commission is there to help them protect the state's $17 billion dollar business.

Hawkins said, "That's why we are here, to support an industry that is way of life for so many South Carolinians."

For more information concerning forestry or wildfires visit the South Carolina Forestry Commission's web site at http://www.state.sc.us/forest/bull.htm.

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