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Parts of Canada and the US have had a grueling fire season this year, forcing numerous mills to shut down, and resulting in the loss of thousands of acres of land. The fires, along with two major hurricanes and CVD on Canadian lumber, have contributed to low supply and high prices on softwood lumber. It’s directly creating higher profits for a number of countries who export lumber, including Canada.
After months of waiting, the change in weather is finally helping some of the US lumber industry get back up and running.
Recent rains and cooler weather in Oregon have allowed lumber workers to return to work. Just last week, most of Southern Oregon was at a level 4 Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL), meaning mills had to be completely closed while fires were fought.
The World (theworldlink.com) explains the IFPL indicators in Nicholas A. Johnson’s “Lumber industry returns to work after fire closures:”
“When the state posts a level one IFPL, work for the lumber industry returns to normal. The requirements at level one are the same as the precautions companies take naturally during fire season. Small precautionary measures like workers carrying a water tank with them are required.
At level two, waivers are submitted by lumber companies for permission to operate. Certain equipment like power saws, feller-bunchers with rotary head saws, cable yarding, blasting, welding, cutting, and grinding metal, are only allowed between the hours of 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
When the IFPL is increased to three, all work must be done between the hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.”
Not every sawmill was impacted the same by the fires. Some, like Seneca Sawmill, lost acres of timber lands. Seneca’s CEO states that it lost 1,000. Other mills were fortunate enough not to lose any timberland, but still had to close because during a level 4, they can only mill the logs they have in inventory, and no new logs come in to be milled.
This will hopefully start to alleviate some of the imbalance with supply and demand in the US. The National Association of Home Builders had already reported a surge in need for lumber, and with Harvey and Irma, this need is exacerbated greatly.
Cost was already hindered by the tariff that the Trump administration imposed on Canadian lumber. The need for lumber is so great in the US that Canadian mills are able to raise the cost to the consumers rather than eat the tariffs. As a result, everyone in the US who is buying lumber is paying more for less.
As stated in previous articles about the lumber situation, those who purchase softwood lumber are encouraged to seek out alternatives to supplement orders during these volatile conditions, and maintain strong communication with lumber suppliers.
Packnet can discuss alternatives to both wood in general and specific lumber. We specialize in pallet and container/packaging solutions and stay current on all laws pertaining to lumber. Let us know how we can help: 952-944-9124