Logging trucks growl over the Blue Mountains in northeast Oregon, hauling freshly cut timber to one of Boise Cascade’s three manufacturing facilities scattered around the region, including a plywood mill in the rural town of Elgin.
About 250 people work full-time at the Elgin complex, making plywood panels for building construction. Elsewhere on site, a stud mill sits empty after Boise Cascade announced an indefinite curtailment, ceasing operations in mid-July.
Mill closures are nothing new in Eastern Oregon. Since 1990, the industry has lost 18 mills and more than 1,200 jobs locally, said Lindsay Warness, forest policy analyst for Boise Cascade. On a percentage basis, that’s equivalent to 106,000 jobs in the Portland metro area.
To keep the remaining mills open, Boise Cascade buys roughly 33 percent of its timber from as far as Mount Hood and southwest Idaho, trucking in logs from 250 miles away. A smaller percentage comes from the three national forests within the Blue Mountains — the Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman and Malheur — where Warness said the company has seen a “significant decline” in available timber supply.
Read the full article at the Capital Press.