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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Timber experts talk industry

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Timber experts talk industry

Heath Heikkila of the American Forests Resource Council talks about the challenges facing Oregon’s forests and the timber industry at a panel discussion Friday hosted by Boise Cascade in Elgin. (Katy Nesbitt/The Observer)
Heath Heikkila of the American Forests Resource Council talks about the challenges facing Oregon’s forests and the timber industry at a panel discussion Friday hosted by Boise Cascade in Elgin. (Katy Nesbitt/The Observer)
ELGIN — Restoring forest health and providing timber industry jobs has been a concern in Northeast Oregon for more than two decades. Friday morning, a panel of experts from around the state talked about the challenges and opportunities to timber-dependent communities.

Tom Insko, Boise Cascade Inland Area manager, said 58 million board feet of timber was processed in 1990; in 2010, that number dropped to 8 million. In 24 years 19 mills closed in Eastern Oregon and 4,700 jobs were lost.

“We are struggling with a model of decline,” Insko said. “Over the last couple decades, the industry has been decimated. Our rural communities suffer and the social systems are overtaxed.”

Following a long list of negative impacts of a shrinking timber industry, Insko said there was a “rose.” 

“We want to create a different model and see that begin to take shape,” he said.

He said Congressman Greg Walden, R-Hood River, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Gov. John Kitzhaber are creating what Insko called a groundswell of support for changing the model to manage timberlands, create jobs and resilient forests.

Boise Cascade provides 590 jobs in Union County. Insko said if the company had access to the fiber it needs, it could add 185 jobs.  

“We are committed to returning to a model of prosperity by being  constructive partners and working with stakeholders. It takes investment and is a collaborative process,” Insko said.

For the complete story, see Monday's edition of The Observer. 

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