Owners of the Malheur Lumber Company in John Day are calling off a plan to shutter the facility this November. That’s after the U.S. Forest Service announced it would take steps to speed up the supply of federal timber in Eastern Oregon.
For years, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has sought to bridge the differences between logging and environmental groups through his Eastside Forest Bill, which is pending in the Senate.
Wyden believes healthy forests can lead to a healthy economy through forest thinning and biomass. But he says infrastructure is key to that.
The forest service announcement came after Wyden held a meeting with various industry and environmental stakeholders to explore how to keep small mills like Malheur running.
"You lose them and it's hard to play catch up ball and recreate it. And so we in effect drew a line in the earth and said 'We're not going to lose those last few remaining mills'," Wyden said.
How long the mill will be able to stay open is unclear. Managers say that will largely depend forest service's ability to deliver on its targets.