State income from logging drying up

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by By / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 12:34 PM

Video: State income from logging drying up

ABERDEEN, Wash. - The value of the state's vast timber supply is dropping like a rock.

Washington residents have already seen the effects on the timber industry, with some logging companies and mills rapidly laying off workers, and even shutting down.

"Right now it's a hard time," said Mark Doumit, of the Washington Forest Protection Agency. "There's a deep recession in the housing market which has impacted our timber prices."

But it's not just a problem for the timber industry. If Washington state can't sell its lumber, that's going to affect just about everybody.

It's a controversial issue, but the state of Washington, just like Weyerhaeuser, is in the tree farm business. And just like Weyerhaeuser, the state is watching the price of its trees go down right along with the nation's tumbling housing market.

Schools and counties have grown to depend on the money from state-owned trees and will learn next month how much less they'll be getting.

"Common schools get about $60 million of this money and then next one is counties, local governments get about $60 million," said Cullen Stephenson, of the state Department of Natural Resources.

A projected half billion dollars in tree money coming into the state is down at least $100 million now and the price keeps dropping. With timber prices like these, most of the cutting going at the DNR and the agencies its supports will be in their own budgets.

"We started the forecast at $340 per thousand board feet," Stephenson said. "The current market is about $160."

State DNR officials say since the year 2000, the agency has brought in $2 billion in timber revenue.

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