Future Prospects for Private Timber Harvest in Eastern Oregon
Projections of eastern Oregon private sawtimber harvest are developed using a market model linked to a subplot level projection of growth and inventory. The “base” projection envisions nearly a 50% drop in forest industry harvest relative to recent historical levels, while nonindustrial private forestland harvest remains roughly stable. In this scenario the region would lose nearly one-third of its remaining lumber mills and processing capacity within the first 30 years of the projection. Log prices would show little long-term trend. Simulations of two hypothetical public policies show the impacts of changes in public harvest and the private land base. In a case of expanded riparian protection, which reduces the harvestable private land base by about 11%, private harvest falls by roughly 18% between 2003 and 2033. Large harvest reductions are projected on industrial lands because of limited merchantable inventories. A restoration thinning program on public lands that raises public harvest by 40 million board feet per year over 20 years, sustains recent mill numbers for the next 25 years (although total harvest continues to decline). Substitution of public harvest for private harvest would enable continuation of a higher private cut for several years after the thinning program has ended.
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