Timber Restrictions Are Also to Blame
Your May 17 story on high lumber prices (“Getting Hammered”) overlooked a major reason behind this phenomenon. It is true that demand from home building has pushed wood product prices higher. During the first four months of this year, in fact, new housing starts were up more than 16% over the same period last year.
At the same time, however, the supply of timber available for home building has continued to fall steeply. Timber sales of federal forest lands have dropped by 80% just in this decade due to environmental litigation and administrative restrictions. This decline has fallen most heavily on the forests of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, where mature softwood timber used in wood products is especially abundant. Scores of mills have closed and tens of thousands of jobs have been lost as a result.
But the impact has probably been felt most acutely by home builders and home buyers, who have seen wood product prices go up accordingly. Even record-breaking imports of softwood lumber from Canada have not offset the loss of U.S. forest land taken out of production.
This situation persists despite the fact that U.S. forest land owners grow about a third more wood than they harvest nationwide.
W. HENSON MOORE
President and CEO
American Forest & Paper Assn.