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Timber officials want more public lands harvested
by SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 6/26/11
Timber officials want to see more timber harvesting on public lands.

Harvesting public timber would add to the available supply, said Rod Nichols, information officer with the Department of Forestry. As logging companies continue to export more than a billion board feet of lumber per year, more supply would help drive prices down or at least make product available for local sawmills.

“All our members now are taking a close look at public timber,” said Tom Parton, president of the American Forest Resource Council in Salem. “Public timber (on publicly owned land) can’t be exported. Public timber right now is very important to keep domestic infrastructure going.”

In Jackson and Josephine counties, the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service own 4 million acres of forest but harvest less than 4 percent of available growth, said David Schott, executive vice president of Southern Oregon Timber Industries Association in Medford.

“Until the economy picks up, mills here are in a terrible squeeze and would love if there would be more harvest on public lands,” Schott said. “We have the natural resources, but we’re not using them.”

All publicly owned land comes with a slew of environmental and other restrictions, but forest products officials hope lawmakers will allow state and federal agencies to harvest some timber.

“Columbia hasn’t owned federal timber for six or seven years,” said Mark Slezak, Columbia Forest Products timber manager. “But if markets got really strong and that supply doesn’t exist, it’s going to raise material costs.

“We have a lot of dead and dying timber,” he said. “In our view, (not harvesting it) is wasting a … valuable resource.”


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