At a time when Wallowa Forest Products should be stockpiling logs for next winter, it is sawmilling logs as soon as they come into the yard in an effort to keep its employees working. Shorter weeks last week and this week have been ordered by plant manager John Redfield as the inflow of logs cannot quite keep up with one shift at the mill.
For a period of time two shifts have been employed in the planer mill, but that is anticipated only to last until the 4th of July holiday.
"It is a bit of a struggle," said the plant manager, who daily fights the battle of bringing raw material into the millyard. "Every stick we can get in here is important to us."
He emphasizes the need to keep the mill running to maintain his nucleas of trained employees.
At present an average of 16 truck loads of logs are coming into the mill each day. This is six or seven loads shy of what it takes to keep one shift busy, says Redfield. All 16 loads come off of private lands.
Wallowa Forest Products log buyers Jack Boyd and Rick Hanson have been busy, already drafting as many log contracts this year as they did all of last year. The problem is that most of the sales are small.
A sale of a couple hundred thousand feet of timber Service land can be harvested for the only sawmill now operating in Wallowa County once the federal agency signs off on the contract.
To operate one shift at Wallowa Forest Products for one month it takes an estimated two to two and one half million board feet of timber. "It's all a function of raw material," said Redfield.