EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon Logging Conference opened its 75th year with a positive outlook and an address by Congressman Peter DeFazio.
OLC organizers say things are looking up in the industry, but the road moving forward is not a clear straight-away. DeFazio says he working on a partial solution, but it’s going to require some give and take.
The conference is a place to shop and talk shop–an annual check-up between loggers and their industry. And it sounds like this year’s report is a positive one.
“The loggers have been very busy. A lot of people talking about expanding their operations and growing,” said Don Hardwick, OLC President.
It’s a welcome change in topic from the past decade, but the boom is hitting a bump.
“They are conversations we haven’t heard in a while. It’s a very, very good thing to walk around and see people being so positive about our industry,” Hardwick said. “We need a dependable supply of raw material, particularly logs to meet the demand for our finished product, and we have to look to our federal government to do that.”
“Housing is coming back. Lumber prices are up. He says he’s been talking to mill owners, and they’re ready to hire, but they can’t get logs, so it’s holding us back here,” DeFazio said.
That “it” is federal timberland that still seem just out of reach. But DeFazio explained to loggers in his opening address at the conference that he’s working to remove as much of the roadblock as he can with a bill that’s going to have to be a compromise between loggers and conservationists.
“It’s never going to be what it once was. It’s never going to be everything they need or want, but it’s going to be enough to provide the basics, and I think there’s a fair trade off there,” DeFazio said.
“We’re in support of at least the proposal that they’re working on, so I think there’s some understanding that we can’t just go out and go back to the harvesting levels we saw in the late ’70s early ’80s, but we need to get management of our federal forests out of the courts and back in to the hands of the forestry professionals that really know what they’re doing,” Hardwick said.
Congressman DeFazio is working on his O&C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act with Oregon Congressmen Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader.