22 Nov 2009, 1:44am
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Logging slump puts pressure on forest owners

by ED MERRIMAN, Baker City Herald, November 20, 2023 [here]

An Oregon Department of Forestry report titled “Oregon’s Timber Harvest: 1849-2004” shows that the state’s timber industry has yet to recover from the downturn that slashed logging volumes in 1994  to the lowest levels since the Great Depression.

Yearly timber harvest in Oregon since 1994 has hovered between 3 billion and 4 billion board-feet, according to the report.

That’s less than half the 7 billion to 9 billion board-feet cut annually during previous 50 or so years.

Since 1994, logging on private and state-owned forests has been fairly constant, averaging between 2.5 billion board-feet and 3.5 billion board-feet.

But cutting on federal lands has declined from a yearly average of nearly 3 billion board-feet to 596 million board-feet in 1994, and to between 166 million and 337 million board-feet from 1998 through 2004, the last year covered in the report.

In Baker County, logging on private and public forests averaged more than 75 million board-feet during the 1980s, peaking at 97 million in 1987.

The harvest remained relatively high in 1990, at 86.5 million board-feet, then plummeted to 45.6 million in 1991.

The annual harvest continued to drop, reaching a low of 16.5 million board-feet in 2003 before rising to 31.5 million in 2004.

During the 20-year period 1984-2004, timber cutting on Forest Service land in Baker County peaked in 1987 at 83 million board-feet, then dropped to 8.5 million in 1994 and to 6.5 million in 1995.

That wasn’t enough to sustain the county’s last sawmill — Ellingson Lumber Co. in Baker City, which closed in early 1996 — even though private forests in the county produced a total of 48 million board-feet of timber in 1994-95. … [more]



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