MDA director Robin Scott said the trees up for sale are growing on a combination of heavily wooded areas and land marked for future development.
The Alabama Forestry Commission is handling the timber sale and, according to Scott, will oversee felling the trees. He said the Forestry Commission recommended the timber sale as part of a long-term health plan for McClellan’s grounds, adding that the trees in question would need to come down regardless of the sale.
“It’s a combination of thinning to maintain health and clear-cut land for industrial development,” Scott said after the MDA’s planning meeting on Wednesday.
State lands forester Eddie Kirkland said thinning densely wooded areas improves the health of trees left behind by giving them more room to grow.
“When trees grow in crowded conditions, which all those stands are, after a while the crowns get too small to support the tree,” he said. “So they start dying out.”
He added that healthy trees are less susceptible to attacks from insects and disease. Kirkland said slightly less than half of the timber will come from thinning overcrowded forests.
The rest will come from clearing lots that are coming up for sale, including land adjacent to a planned industrial access road.
The proposed extension to Iron Mountain Road will exit onto Alabama 21 near Jacksonville, bypassing the tedious cobweb of streets laid out at the former military installation.
Scott said no date has been set to begin construction on the extension.
The first phase of the extension was completed earlier this year with a grant from the Alabama Industrial Access Bridge and Road Authority. Scott explained that the MDA needs to land another client before the grant for the second phase will be awarded.
“They want to see growth and the promise of jobs in the area,” Scott said. “Hopefully as we start clearing land we’ll attract more interest to the property.”
Kirkland said the timber sale is just the first step of the state Forestry Commission’s plan for McClellan. He predicted more clearing, more thinning and future timber sales.
“Mostly in areas they can sell and might want to recognize some revenue from first,” he said.
The MDA office will be accepting bids until June 23 at 10 a.m. Bid invitations can be obtained by contacting Kirkland at 334-727-1060.
Scott said he didn’t know what kind of profits the MDA expected to generate from the sale.
“It will just depend on the bids, I guess.”