Coastal Forestry Issues - Exports

Mike Hagen mhagen at
Fri Jan 16 12:24:06 EST 1998

sitka at wrote:
> Hello Mike.
> Sorry for the tardy response to your reply of January 3 but I'm still
> trying to catch up on business after returning to work after the x-mas
> holidays.  It was a pleasure to read your reply on this site along with
> several others I received from the USA and Finland via regular e-mail.
> From your description of the local situation near your community in
> Washington State you are in a unique situation where you are faced with
> an over supply of raw fibre (attributable to a ban on raw log
> exports?)and an under capacity of processing facilities.  Thats quite the
> opposite from the British Columbia situation which has had an over
> capacity of pulp mills and sawmills for some time now (even with a log
> export ban in place).  Although there has been some consolidation taking
> place its still no where near enough to maintain a healthy forest sector
> economy.  One of the thorny problems is who's mills/facilities do you
> allow to close or naturally die off and which rural BC communities bear
> the brunt of the economic hardship?
> Our current government policies/legislation and meddling are doing
> nothing but exacerbating the situation further by continually stepping in
> a propping up otherwise failing firms.  This occured most recently here
> in Prince Rupert where the government and a major chartered bank are now
> co-owners in the bankrupt Repap pulp mill (the direct gov. investment
> to-date is in the range of $200 million and still counting - not
> including the unseen stumpage and other forms of relief).  A similar
> situation also occurred earlier in the year with a sawmill near Golden BC
> with the government stepping in and granting numerous direct and indirect
> subsidies through stumpage relief and other forms of assistance.
> I was surprised to hear about Port Angeles was also importing Alaskan
> fibre, albeit in roundwood form, for their local veneer facility.
> Although it should not have been much of a surprise, the economics do
> leave me scratching my head - thats a long tug/barge run from the Tongass
> all the way down to Port Angeles. The old growth WRC situation in
> Washington and Oregon must be acute.  What troubled me with the recent
> barge load of cedar chips that imported for the local mill here in Rupert
> over the holidays was that pulp chips/wood has never been cheaper here on
> the coast(average $35-40/m3 these days)and yet it was still cheaper to
> import Alaskan chip with the dollar exchange?  Food for thought.
> Cheers.
> Shawn Hedges
> Prince Rupert, BC

These transactions just aren't explainable to a lowly independant such
as myself. Long running pulp supply contracts, tribal self employment,
wild export market swings, that law that prevents US ships from docking
at foreign ports AND US ports on the same trip(Jones Act, I think): it
just doesn't run smoothly does it?

>From listening to CBC and Vancouver TV all these years, I was under the
impression that BC ran its forest industry first for profits, secondly
to maintain local employment levels, and last, to conduct forestry (as
in silviculture) on Crown lands.  It seems that the first goal isn't
working, so the second is on the way out and the third is just catching
on. How far off base am I here? From past experience I know The Media
seldom get the real situation across to the public.

Hows the winter up there?
Mike H.

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