Banks, Forestry, News

Hampton Lumber’s sawmill in Banks closed ‘indefinitely’

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Hampton Lumber’s mill in Banks is closed “indefinitely,” the company said in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon.

The mill employed 58 people.

Kristin Rasmussen, a spokesperson for Hampton Lumber, confirmed that all of them had lost their jobs.

“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.”

Hampton said operations in Banks had already been curtailed since October.

The company, which has operations in the U.S. and Canada, said its three other mills in Northwest Oregon would remain open in Tillamook, Willamina, and Warrenton.

“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 press release went on to detail the impact of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s proposed Habitat Conservation Plan on timber harvest in state forests like the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests located near Banks.

The Banks Post earlier republished a report noting that the Oregon Department of Forestry said Washington County stood to lose more than $5.6 million annually in timber revenue, a number that did not reflect other possible lost revenue from things like the shuttering of a mill.

The Western Oregon State Forest Habitat Conservation Plan would govern logging and conservation on about 630,000 thousand acres of state forests to protect 17 threatened or endangered species. The plan awaits approval from the Oregon Board of Forestry and the federal government and is expected to be adopted this year.

There has been a lumber mill in Banks since 1961, Hampton said.

“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.”

According to Hampton, the Banks sawmill produced enough lumber to frame 38,000 single-family homes since 2016 and generated over $263 million in local economic activity.

“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,” Hampton said.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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