Because of a shortage of timber availability Wallowa Forest Products of Wallowa has laid off one shift at the sawmill, reducing its payroll for an indefinite amount of time by close to 30 employees.

Mill manager John Redfield points to a lack of productivity on Forest Service land, via environmental and lynx concerns, as a main reason for the cutback.

Redfield says that running two shifts is the most economical way to run the sawmill, but cannot do so without an adequate availability of logs to cut.

Wallowa Forest Products has been importing logs from the Ellensburg, Wash., area, most specifically a contract with the Yakima Indian Reservation, but Redfield said that those timber sales are soon coming to a close. He says that much of the timber now being cut at the mill is from local private landowners.

Some 38 or 39 employees are still working at the sawmill and the planer mill.

"We are out looking for wood," said Redfield. "We hope this is a short term thing."

The shift closure went into effect March 31.

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