Company expected to maintain same harvest practices, though labor plans unknown

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - When the Weyerhaeuser-Longview timber sale is finalized, Weyerhaeuser will own roughly 1.3 million acres of timber land in Oregon alone.The Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser Company announced June 16 it had signed a purchase agreement with Longview Timber LLC for $2.6 billion.

The purchase of Longview’s timberlands in Washington and Oregon will expand Weyerhaeuser’s acreage of merchantable timber by 645,000 acres, increasing the company’s timber holding in the Pacific Northwest by 33 percent to approximately 2.6 million acres and about 6.6 million in the total U.S.

Amy Grotta with Oregon State University Extension’s Forestry and Natural Resources department said in an OSU Extension newsletter that about one-third of Columbia County’s timber land belonged to Longview, leaving residents to wonder what the forestland’s change in ownership will mean for the county’s timberland.

Tony Hyde, Columbia County commissioner and former Longview Timber employee, said he anticipates Weyerhaeuser to keep the same business model that Longview Timber had in place.

“When the company bought Longview, they said that they’d continue with the business model [Longview] had,” he said. “Longview sets the tone for the sustained-yield model... they were very careful about how much wood they’d harvest each year.”

A “sustained yield” timber practice results in a tree being planted each time one is cut.

“Every year you have a predictable amount of timber that will come off that land,” he said. “In old days, they’d just clear it and move on. That’s not the way we do it these days.”

Hyde added that, in terms of a company, his impression of Weyerhaeuser has been mostly positive.

“My big concern is, are they going to continue to use local contractors?” he said. “I would hate to see a situation where local loggers are out of business.”

Weyerhaeuser executives explained in a press release that the purchase aligns with their current timber holdings.

“We believe our company is uniquely positioned to maximize the value of these timberlands,” said Dan Fulton, Weyerhaeuser president and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement.

“The acquired timberlands are highly complementary to our existing acreage in Washington and Oregon, where we have more than 100 years of experience managing Douglas fir,” Fulton continued. “By increasing our high-value timber holdings west of the Cascade mountain range, we will leverage our infrastructure as well as our expertise in silviculture, logistics and marketing, giving us a distinct competitive advantage both domestically and with export markets.”

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