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Oregon Timber Harvest Slips For 2nd Consecutive Year


In this photo taken on Nov. 21, 2014, processor operator Colton Clark works his way through a stand of timber on the Malheur National Forest outside John Day, Oregon. Oregon's timber harvest slipped below 4 billion board feet in 2015 for the first time in two years.

In this photo taken on Nov. 21, 2014, processor operator Colton Clark works his way through a stand of timber on the Malheur National Forest outside John Day, Oregon. Oregon's timber harvest slipped below 4 billion board feet in 2015 for the first time in two years.

Jeff Barnard/AP

Oregon’s timber harvest dropped 8 percent last year.

Before the great recession, Oregon was producing about 4 billion board feet of lumber a year. That dropped after the recession as people stopped building houses.

But it’s been climbing and for the last few years it’s been above 4 billion board feet again, thanks in part to a strong Chinese economy.

But Brandon Kaetzel with the Oregon Department of Forestry, said China’s economy stumbled in 2015 and the Softwood Lumber Agreement, between the U.S. and Canada, expired.

“And when that happened the levy that is usually faced by Canadian lumber coming into the United States is dropped. We see a substitution effect. Canadian lumber coming down, they’re less likely to harvest Oregon logs,” said Kaetzel.

A bad fire season and a wet winter also reduced logging in 2015. What the harvest will be this year depends on the weather, China and a renegotiation of the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

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