Oregon timber harvest tops 4 billion board feet

Associated PressJuly 15, 2014 

— Oregon's timber harvest topped 4 billion board feet last year, the first time it has reached that level since 2006, a state report released Tuesday shows.

The 4.2 billion board feet harvested in 2013 represents a 12 percent increase from the year before and marks the fourth consecutive year of increases since the recession low of 2.7 billion board feet in 2009.

The state Department of Forestry said in its annual harvest report that the increase can be chalked up to a strong export market and a domestic housing recovery.

However, the upward trend might not continue in 2014 because housing forecasts have been revised lower and the export market recently cooled, said Brandon Kaetzel, the top economist at the department.

Oregon's timber harvest was 9.74 billion board feet in 1972 but fell during the economically troubled late 1970s and early 1980s before rebounding above the 8 billion mark. Volume plunged in the 1990s as environmental issues led to cutbacks in logging on federal lands.

Sixty percent of Oregon's forest land is federal. Industrial and family owned lands comprise another 34 percent and the rest is divided between entities such as the state, counties and tribes. Percentage-wise, the largest harvest spike in 2013 was on non-industrial private forestlands, where the harvest increased 61 percent to 511 million board feet.

"This is most likely due to small forestland owners taking advantage of higher prices as a result of a still strong export market in 2013," Kaetzel said in a statement.

The harvest on industrial forestlands increased 8 percent, from 2.56 billion board feet in 2012 to 2.75 billion board feet last year.

Lane County, with 620 million board feet, was the state's top producer in volume, followed by neighboring Douglas County. Klamath County harvested the most timber east of the Cascade Range, with 124 million board feet.

It takes 10,000 board feet to build a roughly 1,800-square-foot house.

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