Portland, OR – January 9, 2024
Hampton Lumber today announced the indefinite closure of its sawmill in Banks, Oregon, where operations have been curtailed since October.
“We are well aware of the detrimental impact a mill closure has on employees, their families, and the surrounding community,” said Hampton CEO, Randy Schillinger. “I want to thank our Banks employees for their professionalism and hard work over the years,” said Schillinger. “And I want to also thank community leaders in Banks and rural Washington County for the support they have shown for the mill over the years.”
There has been a lumber mill in Banks since 1961, a town of fewer than 2,000 people in rural Washington County. The Banks mill employed 58 people. “No one wants to see a mill close,” said Schillinger. “However, with the current log supply restrictions in Oregon and the likelihood of additional restrictions on State Forests in the coming years, we just can’t see a viable future for the Banks facility.”
The town of Banks lies on the outskirts of Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests, Forest Trust Lands managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) for recreation, habitat, timber harvest and revenue for county services. ODF returns roughly 64 percent of the revenues produced from timber to the counties to fund public services like rural schools, fire departments and law enforcement agencies. The state retains the remaining 36 percent as a management fee.
Under a proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) now being considered by the Board of Forestry, harvests on state forests are expected to decrease up to 34 percent from roughly 250 million board feet (MMBF) annually to just 165-182.5 MMBF each year for the next 70 years. These figures do not include the impact of subsequent lost jobs and economic opportunity related to these harvest reductions.
This decreased harvest projection is due to ODF’s decision to set aside 57 percent of state forestland for habitat under the HCP. In the coming months, the Board of Forestry will have to decide whether to make changes to the HCP to improve harvest outcomes or continue with the plan as proposed.
“It’s hard to see the loss of local manufacturing capacity, particularly when it seems so unnecessary,” said Schillinger. “We have some of the most healthy and productive forests in the world and they’re already maintained under the best forest practices to ensure we meet non-harvest goals on our mixed-use forests.”
Wood products grown and manufactured in Oregon are among the most environmentally friendly structural building materials available, however, the local industry is coming under increasing strain due to compounding restrictions on timber harvests. While log supply in Oregon is tightening, demand for building materials is increasing in the U.S., where around 35 percent of lumber used for construction is already imported.
Since Hampton took over the Banks mill in 2016, the sawmill produced enough lumber to frame 38,000 single-family homes and generated over $263 million in local economic activity.
Hampton will maintain operations at its three remaining sawmills in Northwest Oregon in the communities of Willamina, Tillamook, and Warrenton, which collectively employ more than 600 people.
About Hampton Lumber
Hampton Lumber is a fourth-generation, family-owned company headquartered in Portland, Oregon. With over 80 years in the sawmill business, Hampton operates sawmills in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia and markets wood products all over the world. Hampton also manages a wholesale and lumber export division and numerous reload and remanufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. All of Hampton’s forestlands are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), an independent, non-profit organization that promotes sustainable forest management. SFI certified forests play an important role in water conservation, wildlife habitat, and climate solutions.