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Panhandle Timber Defense aims to protect from wildfires

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | June 12, 2024 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — A longtime resident, Kyle Wacholz knows first-hand how devasting wildfires can be.

With experience gained from 10 years of fighting fires around the West, Wacholz said he wanted to put those skills to protect his community. That led to his launching Panhandle Timber Defense, a company that provides sustainable management of forests and local timberlands.

Its wide-ranging services include forest planning and stewardship, monitoring forest growth and health, marketing timber, and creating defensible space around homes and wildland-urban interface areas, Wacholz said.

"We specialize in fire prevention and mitigation measures to reduce the risk of catastrophic damage on properties," he said.

Living in — and loving — the community made him want to defend it and his friends and family from damaging wildfires.

"I felt like my skill set was better suited here locally, rather than fighting fires all around the West," Wacholz said. "I want to preserve the value of the Idaho Panhandle where I recreate, and live with my family."

To help protect properties from wildfires, Panhandle Timber Defense provides a range of fuel reduction services. These include hazard tree removal, thinning overgrown areas, and clearing land to create defensible spaces. The company also offers selective logging, stump grinding, and chipping services to manage timber resources. In addition, the company sells high-quality firewood for residential use.

"We can also go back and offer tree planting service to regenerate new growth for sustainable timberland," said Wacholz.

Ultimately, Wacholz's aim is for his company to have a positive impact on its customers by providing services that enhance the protection of their homes against the threat of devastating wildfires.

He wants clients to know they'll be treated like family — all work will be done with integrity, mindfulness and an unmatched work ethic. 

"We will help our customers increase wildfire readiness by informing them on ways to create a fuel-free space around their home," Wacholz said.

With 10 years under his belt of fighting some of the biggest wildfires in the West, Wacholz has gained invaluable experience on what to do — and how to do it right. He's also a professional faller and a highly skilled sawyer, all matched with a passion for protecting the community.

Since launching Panhandle Timber Defense, the company has become sought after for managing local properties through thinning, chipping, and hazard tree mitigation. However, before any work is done, Wacholz works with landowners to create a plan to protect their property and preserve the value of their forests. 

His goal, Wacholz said, is for Panhandle Timber Defense to become known for its work ethic and fire prevention skills. Creating, he added, a sustainable environment for low-risk wildfires. 

"It’s not 'if' but 'when' a wildfire can affect you, a neighbor, or our local community," Wacholz said. "From my experience in wildfire, it is a natural part of our environment and we need to defend our homes by pre-preparing, by effectively managing your property and surrounding forest."

Information: Panhandle Timber Defense, panhandletimberdefense@gmail.com or by phone at 208-699-1589