Panel — Current timber markets

Answers from:

Tom Westergreen, WA Tree Farm Program, Forester.  cell  360-961-0312;

Chris Magruder, Boise Cascade, Log Buyer. 1274 S. Boise Rd., Kettle Falls, WA 99141. O: 509-738-3269; C: 509-680-0217; F: 509-738-3296.

Bill Turner, Sierra Pacific Inc, Log Buyer. Cell 360-770-5097,

Dennis Parent, Association of Consulting Foresters, DRPforestry, LLC. 2735 W. Ashland Lane;  Hayden, ID 83835. Mobile 208-755-6687.

Tom Westergreen, Tree Farmer

Tom earned a degree in Forest Management from WSU and spent a rewarding career in the private forest industry, that allowed him to do a wide variety of jobs from, reforestation, nursery manager, tree improvement, logging supervisor, log sales and log purchasing.  Now retired, pursing his passion of being a full time certified tree farm owner and advocating for other small forest landowners.  He is a long time certified forester through the Society of American Foresters, active leader in the Washington Farm Forestry Association and Whatcom Chapter and long time Washington Tree Farm Program Inspector and continues as NW Region Inspector Coordinator.

Chris Magruder, Log Buyer, Boise Cascade, Inland PNW

I have currently been with Boise Cascade for 11 years.  I started as a contract coordinator in our timber sales department, then along to timber sales supervisor; cruising, appraising, procuring, and administering purchased stumpage.  In 2015 I transitioned to our log purchase department where I still am today, which I now purchase private logs as it gets scaled. (Gatewood)

I originally grew up in Montesano where my dad worked as a forester for Boise Cascade, then we followed my dad to Ellensburg with Boise where he was North Central timberlands manager, then on the Yakima where he became the plywood plant supervisor.

I went along my way to college and then had a separate professional career and lived in Arizona which I ended in 2006 to go back to my roots so to speak. My wife and family then moved back to Yakima where I then went back to school at UW and received my forestry degree.  I’ve been in Colville with Boise Cascade since 2010.  Our procurement department supplies raw logs to three Northeast Washington locations.  The plywood plant (DF/L) in Kettle Falls, and two pine mills.  The large pine mill in Kettle Falls, and a small pine mill in Arden.

Bill Turner, Washington Log Procurement Manager, Sierra Pacific Industries

Bill has a BS degree in Forest Management from Humboldt State University. He has been involved in timber management and log buying throughout California, Oregon and Washington and also purchased logs in Mexico and Canada. Bill started working for Sierra Pacific Industries in 2010. He is now responsible for the log and timber acquisition program for Sierra Pacific’s four Washington Sawmills located in Aberdeen, Centralia, Shelton and Mount Vernon. Sierra Pacific is the largest lumber producer in the state of Washington and the only company that has built new sawmills in the state in the last 20 years. Sierra Pacific is a family owned company that is committed to sustainably managing the more than 2 million acres of forest land that the company owns, as well as promoting and helping others sustainably manage their land.

Dennis Parent, Assoc. Consulting Foresters.  DRP started out his career logging in 1972!

Then he worked for a saw mill in Coeur d’Alene 1972-77. Most of his career was as a forester working in nearly every capacity for Inland Empire Paper Company in Spokane WA, a paper company that owned about 100,000 acres of timberland and sold logs to area sawmills. During all that time he managed to earn two additional M.S. degrees and go through the USFS CEFES program, but that is ancient history. At his age, he realizes that experience counts more than education, but both are good.

In 2014, he “retired” from IEP, joined the Association of Consulting Foresters, and has been a consulting forester since. “This is definitely the best part of my career and I look forward to helping Tree Farmers with their woodland challenges.”

Q: Is Covid-19 the main reason for high wood prices ? I just had my house framed near Seattle and the lumber prices were over 50% higher than pre-Covid 19.  Which part of the supply chain is receiving most of this increase?

A: Low-interest rates have stimulated building (new and DIY’rs) and there’s not enough lumber to   go around. Supply and demand are out of sync, and the pandemic is to blame but the factors are      complicated in a lot of ways.  The big box stores being designated as ‘essential businesses’ did a number on lumber supply. The upswing in demand coinciding with mills shutting down (temp) for COVID protections.  Big box stores reported record profits during this period. But instead of building shutting down, it did the opposite as mills ramped back up and interest rates were low. Contractors looked all over to find available lumber!  The supply chain has just not been able to catch up.  Log prces are really good for forest owners selling timber!

Q: Can we log then hold logged timbers for good prices?

A: Douglas-fir can be held for months, but pine needs to be processed pretty quickly.  Fungal discoloring (“bluestain fungus”) makes the wood lose favor for value, but the wood quality is still solid.  So don’t be afraid to use blue stained wood, but don’t expect to sell it like you would other white wood like ponderosa and lodgepole pine.

Q: Are there any mills around Lewis County? I have 90% Douglas-fir.

A: TimberWest Magazine puts out a nice map.

Q: What are the volumes coming from USFS in EWA?  Are they higher currently, which drives down the prices for family forest landowners?

A: Large volumes are coming from public, tribal lands, and industrial lands.

Q: Is there a good source to monitor current price trends in general?

A: DNR monitors street value monthly.  Look under “Delivered Log Price Survey”

Q: What diameters are generally the sweet spot?

A: Sweet spot for log diameters varies for each mill.  Each Mill will provide a specification sheet that states their preferred log sizes, diameters, and lengths.  It will also include species, sizes and lengths they DON’T want, that will really hurt your bottom line.  So, it is really important to make sure your logger knows which mill each log is going to.

Q: If bigger logs sell at lower prices, what is the ideal size to sell? 12″, 24?”

A: Oversized logs would be trimmed, so that wood is essentially given away.  There are specialty markets/mills that will take large pieces and logs.  Seek them out and ask around before you give wood away.  One near Colville is called Woodworker Network.

Q: How do you determine forester fee. What percentage and how calculated.

A: Differs depending on the job.  Sometimes it is hourly, sometimes if associated with a timber harvest, it could be a percentage basis.

Q: Do we sign a contract with a consulting forester?

A: Yes, you should.

Q: I’ve also felt that 5-30 acres is laughed. Is that universal?

A: Not true.  You probably need to work with a credible forester.

Q: Small landowners doing their own work, thinning, will have only 1 – 3 truck loads a year, what advice do you have for them, again, how long can a fir log sit waiting for a truck load to be ready

A: Small DIY gives you the opportunity to do your homework, seek out best prices and work with     specialty buyers.  Doug-fir can sit for months, but pine should be dealt with in weeks.

Q: What are carbon markets?

A: The idea for a carbon market is that trees sequester carbon and store it in the form of wood (above and below ground).  This “service” is considered a product and therefore selling carbon offsets has monetary value which can be a viable alternative income source for family forest owners.  Learn More HERE

Q: Please list the organizations or services available to help landowners