Oregon timber harvest remains steady above four billion board feet for the second year

For the second year, Oregon’s timber harvest has remained above four billion board feet. While private lands have remained steady, the real story is on our state’s federal lands. Overall, Oregon had a 1.74 percent decrease in timber harvest for a 2014 total of 4.13 billion board feet.

Approximately 49 percent, or 30.2 million acres, of Oregon is forested. Federal forestlands account for 60 percent of these forestlands, industrial forestlands for 19 percent, family forestland owners own 15 percent, state-owned forests comprise three percent, and all other forestland owners (counties, Tribal, etc.), three percent.

The largest increases, by percentage, in timber harvest were on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands (almost entirely west of the Cascades) and on United States Forest Service (USFS) lands east of the Cascades. The BLM harvest increased 26.67 percent to 209 million board feet. This can mostly be attributed to salvage logging from the Douglas Complex fire and 36-month contracts on green timber that purchasers harvested while prices were high. The USFS overall had a decrease in harvest of 1.28 percent (statewide) to 387 million board feet. However, the USFS had a 32 percent increase in harvest east of the Cascades, buoyed by significant increases in Lake County (468 percent increase) and in Grant and Harney counties (41 percent increase, combined). The Lake County increase is due to the implementation of the Fremont-Winema National Forest’s accelerated landscape restoration efforts, while increases in Grant and Harney counties are the result of local collaborative agreements and full implementation of the 10-year Stewardship Contract on the Malheur National Forest.

State lands had a decrease from 252 million board feet in 2013 to 230 million board feet in 2014 for an 8.7 percent decrease in harvest.

Private industry harvest decreased statewide by 4.96 percent from 2013 to 2014 to 2.63 billion board feet. These decreases were present on both sides of the Cascades, but were most prominent on the east side, as a percentage, where private industry harvest declined by approximately 35 percent. Non-industrial private landowners had a 9.2 percent increase (statewide) in harvest to a 2014 total of 558 million board feet.

Harvests on Native American forestlands decreased approximately 14 percent from 66 million board feet in 2013 to 57 million board feet in 2014.

Looking forward, it is expected that harvests will remain around the four billion board feet mark. Issues with exports and port access, along with housing starts not materializing to the 1.5 million start mark that some experts had expected, may keep the harvest rate from rising any further or could lead to slight decreases. The BLM is currently working toward adopting a new management plan for western Oregon that could also affect public harvests west of the Cascades in years to come, an important source of fiber to southern Oregon mills. Likewise, federal funding levels for the USFS, the extent of collaborative agreements, and adequate market outlets for small-diameter trees provide uncertainty around the harvest levels on the east side.