Citing a lack of federal timber, Rough & Ready Lumber is closing its 90-year-old sawmill in Cave Junction, Oregon the last mill operating in southwest Josephine County.
The closure, announced Wednesday, means the loss of 85 jobs. It comes amid a Congressional stalemate on plans to boost logging in U.S. Bureau of Land Management forests.
“For 23 years now, we’ve been pleading with members of Congress and the federal agencies to do something about these log supplies,” said Jennifer Phillippi, the family- owned mill’s CEO and co-owner. “We were prepared to stick it out, but in the last few weeks it became clear to us that, at least in the near term, nothing is going to happen.”
The federal government owns 80 percent of the forestland around the mill, Phillippi said. Thinning and restoration projects have proceeded on federal timberlands. But they don’t produce a steady supply of larger, 22- to 23-inch diameter logs needed at the mill, which specializes in large, exposed beams and posts and high-quality door and window-frame stock, Phillippi said.
Environmental groups have protested sales targeting larger trees, she said, and the mill didn’t see enough of a future supply to fill more than one of three shifts and pay for $2 million in needed upgrades.