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China snaps up logs from the Northwest

Many logs you see on highways in the Northwest might be heading to China, which has been importing unmilled timber at a much higher rate lately.

Medford, Ore. – The Pacific Northwest exported almost a billion board feet of unmilled logs to Asia in the first half of 2011.

That's enough to build about 70 thousand homes. It's also a 79 percent increase from 2010 exports, according to second quarter trade data just reviewed by Forest Service economist Debra Warren.

She says the uptick in exports is mainly due to increased demand from China. Warren says the Northwest has also exported about 500 million board feet of milled lumber this year, but Asian countries often prefer logs.

“Those countries want to keep their people employed, they want to keep their millsgoing, they want to keep their economy strong. So often times they’ll pay more for our logs just so they can keep their mills going,” Warren said.

The timber is mainly being cut in privately owned forests in Washington and Oregon, with about 100 million board feet coming from Alaska and California.