June 24, 2011
Although Oregon’s forest products industries are still struggling, a glimmer of hope appeared with increased timber harvesting in 2010. Overcoming a weak housing market and tightened lending standards, the 2010 harvest hit 3.2 billion board feet, a rise of 17 percent from 2009’s historic low of 2.7 billion board feet. A spike in lumber prices and increased log and lumber exports to China in 2010 drove up log prices by 21 percent, which fueled the uptick in harvests.
From 2009 to 2010, harvest numbers increased for every forest land ownership class except for the Bureau of Land Management. Forest industry, which accounted for 68 percent of Oregon’s total 2010 harvest, also recorded the largest gain in harvest. This category, comprising large, corporate landowners, added 219 million board feet in 2010. This brought the industry total to 2.2 billion board feet, an 11 percent increase from the 2009 harvest of just under 2 billion board feet.
Although forest industry accounted for the largest volume increase in harvest from the 2009 numbers, the other private sector—often called non-industrial or family forestland owners—accounted for the largest percentage growth in harvest from 2009 to 2010. Cutting 93 million board feet in 2009, these smaller landowners expanded harvests by 145 percent to a total of 228 million board feet in 2010.
Other notable increases in 2010 timber harvest include those of the U.S. Forest Service and State owner classes, each with an increase of 62 million board feet over 2009 totals. From 2009 the State total increased 26 percent to 297 million board feet, and the Forest Service total grew 32 percent to 254 million board feet.
Both State and Forest Service harvest totals for 2010 are the highest for those ownership classes since 2005.
With a harvest of 79 million board feet, the Native American tribes’ totals are up 14 million board feet from 2009 – the highest they have been since 2004.
As for individual county totals, Lane edged out Douglas for the No. 1 spot in the state, 455 to 436 million board feet. Lane County harvest grew 35 percent from 2009, most of this increase coming from forest industry, other private and U.S. Forest Service lands.
The 2010 western Oregon timber harvest increased 18 percent from 2009 to 2.8 billion board feet. All western Oregon counties increased harvest from 2009 except Clatsop, Hood River, Josephine and Polk Counties.
Eastern Oregon’s 2010 timber harvest increased 16 percent from 2009 to 400 million board feet. Eastern Oregon counties whose harvest increased in 2010 include Deschutes, Grant, Klamath, Lake, Morrow, Wallowa and Wasco. Klamath County led eastern Oregon counties with a harvest of 94 million board feet – a 23 percent increase from 2009.
The wild card in 2011 is China. The U.S. housing market remains depressed, non-residential construction is weak, and log prices have declined from recent highs. Resurgence in construction markets hinges on a broader economic recovery, but the nation’s economic recovery has hit a soft patch. Unless an unforeseen return in domestic housing demand occurs, log and lumber export levels, including to China, will drive log prices and timber harvests in 2011.
- Port of Olympia busy with timber exports to Asia (seattletimes.nwsource.com)