The Grand Junction City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to match a state tax exemption for bark beetle-kill products through 2020.
City financial planners estimate the move will cost about $20,000 in lost tax revenue, but council members say the benefits far outweigh the costs.
"I saw the area affected up there and it is absolutely devastation," Jim Doody said.
Teresa Coons also chimed in, touting the plan and the effect it could have on air quality. "Right now they're cutting down these trees and burning them in many spots. Our tax break could help eliminate some of that and encourage production of the timber."
The overall effecton the lumber industry remains to be seen, but officials are hoping for the best.
With some experts suggesting billions of trees dead in the mountains, there is plenty of opportunity for loggers. By matching the state tax exemption on beetle-kill products, city leaders are hoping for an increase in local sales.
"It's a little more incentive for us as purchasers and manufacturers to go out and get this material and hopefully we'll be able to market it a little bit better and move more of it," Doug Jones, owner of Doug Jones Sawmill said of the plan.
Jones estimates a million feet of beetle-kill lumber come through Grand Junction each year. "Once the bugs hit the trees, they have limited lifetime of good use ordinarily between two and three years and then they need to be harvested for use," Jones said.
Jones says the quality is comparable as long as it's harvested early enough. He is pleased with the city's decision and says it will help him hire for more jobs.
"We process Spruce and Lodgepole Pine, so I should be able to hire more subcontract work to come in."
Between city and the state's tax breaks, loggers could see a 7.65% total savings. Only affected wood from Colorado qualifies for the local savings.