First Quarter Western Lumber Production Continues Increase

“Continuing a trend that led to 1999 being a record year for U.S. lumber use, production at western lumber mills continued to increase during the first quarter of 2000, according to the Western Wood Products Association.Production statistics compiled by the organization show that western lumber production in the first quarter of 2000 reached 4.77 billion board feet, a 10.4 percent increase from a year ago. Orders and shipments of lumber rose 6.5 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.The association cited a strong U.S. housing market in accounting for much of the lumber production increase. A backlog of construction contracts and mild winter weather in many areas of the country helped fuel higher housing construction activity in January and February, according to the WWPA.Sawmills on the Washington and Oregon coasts posted the largest volume increases in the region, according to WWPA figures. Production at coastal mills rose 14.3 percent from 1999, while shipments were up 15.5 percent. Mills in the inland region covering eastern Washington and Oregon, and the rest of the west, increased output by 6.5 percent and shipped 4 percent more lumber compared to one year ago.U.S. lumber demand reached a record 54.3 billion board feet in 1999. For the year 2000, the WWPA is forecasting a 3.3 percent decline in demand to 52.55 billion board feet, due to lower housing starts as well as slower economic growth.The WWPA represents lumber manufacturers in 12 western states and Alaska. The organization compiles lumber industry statistics and provides business information services to mills.”