Local timber mill falls behind with shutdown-based logging ban

EUGENE, Ore. -- The recent government shutdown caused some northwest timber firms that work through federal lands to fall behind on this year's schedule.

While some timber companies are back up and running Thursday,many are still concerned about the hold placed on logging federal contracts during the government shutdown.

On COt. 8, the Department of Agriculture started halting the sale of timber.

Last week, the Eugene-based Murphy Company recieved a letter from the US Forest Service directing them to stop actively falling timber on their sites immediately.

The Murphy Company joined in on a lawsuit with two other wood product companies Monday, saying the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management did not have the authority to ban logging on federal contracts.

Jacob Groves with Murphy Co. said a judge put a temporary restraining order on the logging ban at his hearing Thursday morning.

Willamette National Forest supervisor Meg Mitchell said they tried working with timber companies through the shutdown process.

"We tried to work with them to follow the national direction while still looking at the specific of that particular contract," said Mitchell. "Timber sale by timber sale basis, individual operators"

Mitchell said the logging ban would have a ripple effect, with smaller operations and private contractors feeling the biggest pinch.

Groves said October is one of the last month's that timber companies have to operate.

"We have to put in enough log inventory in summer and fall to carry us through the winter operations the wet season," Groves said.

Groves said he expects some timber companies to file damage claims with the US Forest Service.

There are 40 active timber contracts in the Willamette national forest, with 450 timber buyers nation-wide. Mitchell said that they sent out new letters this week, saying loggers could get back to work.