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:: Home > The People > Timber and Lumber Exports

Exporting timber and lumber to other countries is an important, and controversial, part of Oregon's forest products industries. Controversy over wood exports is nothing new— dissatisfaction in the colonies over the British export of choice white pines from the eastern seaboard contributed to the American Revolution in 1776. And our changing laws and regulations demonstrates mixed public opinion.

Between 1970 and 1990, several western states, including Oregon, enacted statutes to prevent the export of unprocessed timber outside of the originating state or outside of the United States. In addition to banning log exports from Federal lands, the 1990 act banned the export of logs from most state and local government lands. What does this mean? Wood exported from Oregon originates exclusively from non-public lands.

Why export?

Wood products industries in Oregon produce for markets in other countries where local wood resources are scarce. In addition, money talks. Export markets often are high-end markets, where high quality wood from Oregon gets a premium price. Ultimately, the increased demand (more people wanting the same product) combined with premium wood prices means higher values for exported wood products.

The chart below shows that the weighted average of export log prices can continue an upward trend in spite of the drop in price for domestic log grades (e.g. July 2000, marked by the red arrows).

Douglas-fir log grades and average lumber prices.

"$MBF" stands for dollars per thousand board feet. A log that is 12 inches in diameter and 10 feet long is about 50 board feet.

The average price for the same quality of wood, exported from major ports in Oregon and Washington, commands a price that is about 25% more valuable.

Related Information:

Source: Chart adapted from the Timberland Report VOL. 2, NO. 3 , James W. Sewall Company.