May 21, 2019 1:30 p.m.
Toby Luther, president and CEO of Lone Rock Resources, gave a presentation titled “Uneasy Feeling,” referring to the uncertain future of the timber industry at the monthly Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Monday.
While sharing facts about Lone Rock’s local impacts, he explained that the landscape of the timber industry has both successes and concerns at the moment.
Luther says while Oregon is #1 in the production of softwood lumber and softwood plywood in the United States, there are local impacts of mill closures being felt as close as Glendale and Coos Bay.
Luther pointed to federal interference and state politics as reasons for low timber harvests, high fire danger, and less money from timber flowing into local communities.
“Snowmageddon” was a topic in the presentation as well, with Luther explaining that there are still 6 months of salvage logging ahead for Lone Rock crews.
Luther also took a moment to talk about last year’s fire season calling it “stressful and long,” and projected this year to have a difficult fire season as well.
Luther did end his presentation on a hopeful note saying the local timber industry is resilient and still strong.
Matt Hill of the Douglas Timber Operators spoke to the chamber after Luther, calling the mill closures in Glendale and Coos Bay “frustrating.”
Hill spoke about the Northwest Forest Plan that was instated three decades ago to protect the spotted owl, and said it is still implemented today. Despite cutting timber harvest to vast portions of the state by more than 75%, Hill says the spotted owl has not recovered.
Hill says the endangered owl species is still dwindling due to other invasive owl species and massive fires destroying habitat.
When talking about forest management to mitigate fire hazards, Hill said “I think people see not managing millions of acres of timberland is just not an option.”
Hill did echo Luther’s statement about the resiliency of the timber industry, and said that Douglas County is a timber “strong hold” and he is confident the industry will weather the current storm.