Last lumber mill in Josephine County closes


Sen. Herman Baertschiger & Rep. Gail Whitsett

Sen. Herman Baertschiger (R-Grants Pass)

Salem, OR – The Rough and Ready Lumber Company announced it is closing its Cave Junction sawmill. The mill, which provided 85 family wage jobs with benefits, has not been able to secure a sufficient supply of logs to remain competitive.

“Today is a very sad day for Josephine County,” said Senator Herman Baertschiger (R-Grants Pass). “The great tragedy is that the land surrounding this mill is full of timber, 2.7 million acres of timber. It is like starving in a grocery store and not being allowed to eat.”

Rough and Ready Lumber Company was founded in 1922 and has employed four generations of Josephine County residents. At its peak, the company employed more than 200 employees and helped sustain another 600 jobs in the community. In 1975 there were 22 sawmills in Josephine and Jackson Counties.

A decades long stalemate over how to best manage forests for health and production has meant an inadequate supply of timber for companies like Rough and Ready.

“I am a little upset, because I feel the legislature and our federal delegation have done nothing,” said Baertschiger. “They have turned their backs on rural Oregon and have done thing. That is unacceptable.”

Rep. Gail Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls)

We received news that yet another iconic business of 90 years will be shutting down operations in southern Oregon. The Rough and Ready Lumber company owned by the Phillippi family of Cave Junction will close its doors and business, laying off 85 people. This family owned business has done everything correctly to maintain operations, from reinvesting in the community by building a $6 million biomass cogeneration facility in 2007, to being awarded the Forest Stewardship Council’s green certification for sustainably produced wood products – all to no avail.

The environmental activist community has made it so difficult to procure logs for the mill that they simply can no longer exist in this preservationist atmosphere. At what point are we willing to let our forests be destroyed by severe neglect, non-use and massive burns, which are the result of our federal forest policies?

Eighty five local families will now have no income and little prospect of finding work in southern Oregon, an area already devastated by ridiculous and mostly unsubstantiated federal biological opinions on animals, from sucker fish to spotted owls. These jobs on a per capita basis for the area would represent about 10,000 jobs being eliminated from the Portland job market instantaneously. Would Portland stand for this? Would our federal Senators and Representatives who are opposed to federal timber harvesting stand for this in their populated areas? Probably not; the public outcry would be loud and vociferous. Why is there no voice for rural America that can be heard and acted upon in Washington DC?