The Portland Tribune reports that a three-member panel at the Portland Business Alliance’s monthly breakfast agreed that Oregon’s timber industry can expect to see growth in global demand for wood fiber. However, they warned the increase will be slow and irregular.
Oregon’s timber industry, which dwindled during the Great Recession, is going to face challenges as it tries to meet the growing demand.
Panelist Andrew Miller, president and chief executive officer of Portland’s Stimson Lumber, said that Stimson has had trouble getting logging contractors for the past three years. “The whole supply chain shrunk. It will take years in some cases to rebuild capacities.”
The same is true of the housing construction industry, said panelist Joshua Prangley, vice president of basic materials investment banking for J. P. Morgan Chase in Chicago. When the nation lost 2 million construction jobs, many of those workers left for different industries.
The third panelist, Doug Robertson, a Douglas County commissioner, noted that about two-thirds of the mills in his county have closed in the past four decades.
The panelists also agreed that there probably won’t be increased logging in national forests because environmental groups tend to challenge timber sales in court.
However, Oregon Congressmen Greg Walden (R-Hood River), Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield), and Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) are working on a bill that would pass control of 1.4 million acres managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to the state of Oregon. They will argue that the state can do a better job implementing sustainable forest management practices than the federal government can.
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