Timber industry presses Congress on mill closures

By Marc Heller | 03/19/2024 06:29 AM EDT

Federal forest policies more favorable to logging would stem industry losses and aid forest health, companies tell lawmakers.

A logger in the Umpqua National Forest near Oakridge, Oregon.

A logger in the Umpqua National Forest near Oakridge, Oregon. Don Ryan/AP

Timber companies are telling members of Congress that the wood products industry will continue to suffer mill closures unless federal land policies take a friendlier view toward logging.

In a letter to lawmakers from the Pacific Northwest, the American Forest Resource Council said that region in particular is struggling despite an abundance of trees appropriate for lumber and other wood products.

The trouble is largely due to state-level policies that restrict access to timber on privately owned land, as well as to past damage from wildfires, the group said, citing the recent closure of three mills in western Oregon. But the federal government could help fill the gap by boosting timber harvests in national forests, the AFRC said, and make healthier forests in the process.


“A logical outcome of historic Congressional investments to accelerate forest health treatments on millions of acres of at-risk Federal forests would be additional log supply to support the local infrastructure and workforces required to do the work,” said the AFRC, based in Portland, Oregon, citing the bump in federal spending through the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act that included funding for hazardous fuels reduction, fire breaks and similar forest work.