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INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE WARNS PRESIDENT: ARTIFICIAL TIMBER HARVEST CONSTRAINTS ENDANGERING ECONOMIC RECOVERY

 TACOMA, Wash., Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the American Plywood Association:
 Record high lumber and structural wood panel prices resulting from timber harvest constraints are at risk of dashing hopes for a housing-led economic recovery, a wood products industry executive has warned President Clinton.
 "Low interest rates and growing consumer confidence suggest this spring's housing starts should rise dramatically, thus fueling other segments of the economy," wrote Dennis A. Spencer, chairman of the board of the Tacoma-based American Plywood Association (APA) in a letter to the president. "The reality, however, is that we are at risk of sinking back into recession because artificial and misguided constraints on the availability of timber resources have sent wood product prices skyrocketing," he said. "That, in turn, threatens to suffocate what otherwise would be strong housing demand."
 The association chairman noted that U.S. Forest Service timber sales in Washington and Oregon last year totaled just 385 million board feet, down from an annual average of 3.3 billion board feet during the previous five years and an average of more than four billion feet per year for the period 1982-1986. Nationwide, he said, FY 1992 Forest Service timber sales totaled only 52 percent of the congressional goal of 8.6 billion board feet.
 "Our industry stands ready to play an important part in the nation's economic recovery by supplying the lumber, structural panels and other wood products required to meet the growing need for affordable housing," Spencer said. "However, like the rest of the nation, we are at the mercy of a legislative and legal gridlock that has virtually shut down federal timber harvests in the West and drastically curtailed sales and harvest in other producing regions."
 APA reports that demand for U.S. structural wood panels is forecast to increase four percent this year and 3.5 percent next year, reaching a record high 29.5 billion square feet (3/8-inch basis) in 1994. That demand, coupled with rising timber scarcity, has propelled wood product prices to record highs.
 "These conditions provide a classic example of free market mechanisms at work," Spencer wrote. "The present record high prices of wood products are a direct result of timber harvest restrictions at a time of growing demand for those products."
 The situation, he said, is "not only intolerable for timber- dependent communities, where mill closures, job losses and social problems continue to mount. It is now also a clear obstacle to national economic recovery."
 Spencer told the president he applauds the new administration's plan to hold a Northwest timber summit, and urged the nation's new leader to act quickly. "Time is running out," Spencer said. "Were a reasonable national timber harvest policy to be implemented today, it would take several months before the wood products required to meet growing demand would reach the marketplace."
 Founded in 1933, the American Plywood Association is a nonprofit trade association which represents U.S. and Canadian structural wood panel manufacturers. Its member mills in the United States produce approximately 80 percent of the structural wood panels manufactured in the United States. A related APA organization -- American Wood Systems -- represents manufacturers of glued laminated beams and other glued engineered wood products.
 -0- 2/17/93
 /CONTACT: Dennis Spencer, 503-776-5767, or Jack Merry, 206-565-6600, both of the American Plywood Association/


CO: American Plywood Association ST: Washington IN: PAP SU:

TM-TB -- SE004 -- 7342 02/17/93 12:36 EST
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Date:Feb 17, 1993
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