Protecting Sunken Logs from Degrade after Recovery

Once you pull sunken logs from a river or lake, is there a way to preserve them for a time before sawing? February 14, 2010

I will be pulling submerged logs out of a local river soon. These logs have been underwater for well over 50 years. I know that the best way to prevent deterioration is to saw and dry the wood ASAP. Unfortunately I do not have the capabilities to saw and dry on site, and having someone else do it for me is out of the question. I have several customers interested in purchasing the whole logs and sawing and drying the logs themselves, most of them within a few hours away. Would shrink wrapping the logs and shipping them out to customers delay the deterioration process? Since it will take me about a week to pull enough logs for one shipment, the longest a log would be shrink wrapped and waiting to be shipped would be one week. The shrink wrap is the stuff they use to wrap boats and to bake hay.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor G:
If you use a sort of shrink wrap that does not allow them to dry out, then that aspect of the rapid degrade would be beat, however you have moved the logs from a relatively cool environment to a quite warm one, so any bacterial degrade would have an opportunity. Could you simply put the logs together near to shore and store them underwater until shipment day?

From contributor T:
I think contributor G is correct that they have to remain submerged as long as possible. I realize keeping the logs "rounded up" in a river near the shore is a tough undertaking, so I'll toss out another idea.

Can you get a dozer in there? If so, you can dig a holding tank just above the river flood plain just wide, long, and deep enough to keep the logs covered until you have enough retrieved from the lake for a load. Rent a high volume pump and it won't take long to fill from the river. This may not be feasible for you, but if it is, this is the route I would go.

The cost of having the tank dug can be spread out by the number of logs you retrieve. Let's assume 100 logs and a tank cost of $3000. That's only $30 you would need to add to each log; thought of as a cost per board foot, it would be negligible. I bet it would be quite doable as long as you aren't in a highly remote or inaccessible location.

The cost of machinery rental would also be a 100% write-off, so handled properly it could actually add to your bottom line to dig the tank.

When you remove the logs from the tank and load them, you'll need to pump more water into the tank to cover the next days' haul, which will be too few in number to raise the level sufficient to cover themselves, and the next day, etc. So if you don't own a high volume pump or cannot rent one cheaply or even borrow one, consider buying one since it too is a 100% write-off.

If you can't afford the capital outlay for the tank and pump, etc., I guess another option would be to buy a smaller volume pump, to which you could attach numerous sprinklers and keep the logs wet. This should also work quite well, especially if they could be kept in the shade until loaded.

From contributor M:
I doubt there would be any degrade in one week. You might also want to consider that dewatering the logs for a few days will allow you to haul a larger load and reduce the trucking cost. The savings in transporting slightly drier logs could offset any potential degrade.

From the original questioner:
The option of storing the logs in the river while waiting to be shipped is out of the question. Our local environmental protection agency has told us that once moved, submerged logs have to be removed from the water and stored on land. Digging a pond that would be filled with cold groundwater is possible, but then we would have to file for another permit which would then include other government agencies and that would be a hassle, since I live along the riverbank. If only there was another way.

From contributor T:
Like I say, lots of sprinklers. Fast, simple, and cheap. Of course they'll say that the runoff will contaminate the river.