C&D Lumber Co., a family-owned business founded in 1890, has announced the closure of its mill in Riddle, Oregon.

This marks the fourth mill in the state to announce closure plans in recent months, leaving 93 workers without jobs.

The sawmill will cease operations on May 2, with some operations continuing for a few months while inventory is processed.

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Emotional Impact on Workers

The closure announcement has brought a wave of emotions for both the employees and the Johnson family, who owns C&D Lumber. Some employees have dedicated over 30 years of their lives to the mill, working alongside multiple generations of the Johnson family. The decision to close the mill was undoubtedly a difficult one.

“There’s a lot of emotion all the way around. Yesterday was a hard day for all of us”

C&D Lumber

C&D Lumber was founded in 1890 and has been at its current site, about 20 miles south of Roseburg, since the 1950s – C&D Lumber

Challenges Faced by the Industry

C&D Lumber attributes the closure to the numerous challenges currently facing the industry. These challenges include fluctuating market prices, rising operating costs, and timber shortages. Surprisingly, C&D’s lumber is selling at the same price it did 20 years ago, despite the significant increase in other costs.

Nick Johnson, a member of the Johnson family, expressed the lack of sustainability in the current market conditions. In order to break even, they would need to purchase Douglas fir logs at nearly half the market price. This unsustainable situation has forced the difficult decision to close the mill.

Impacts on Smaller Mills

Smaller mills like C&D are facing additional pressures, including reduced output from public forestland, increased consumption by larger wood products manufacturers, and the effects of the 2021 Private Forest Accord. Matt Hill, the executive director of Douglas Timber Operators, explains that the entire industry is grappling with these challenges.

Recent closures, such as Hampton Lumber’s mill in Banks, Rosboro Co.’s mill in Springfield, and Interfor Corp’s mill in Philomath, demonstrate the widespread impact on the industry. Hill suggests that other mills may also be considering shutdowns in the face of these challenges.

Wake-Up Call for Oregon Policymakers

The closure of these mills serves as a wake-up call for Oregon policymakers. The continuous legislation and debates surrounding forestland management have created an uncertain environment for the industry. Hill emphasizes the need for policymakers to address these issues and recognize the implications of leaving forest management solely in the hands of the courts.

Oregon’s wood products manufacturing sector has been relatively stable over the years, employing around 23,000 people. However, the recent closures are expected to eliminate at least 300 jobs in rural Oregon communities. This highlights the urgent need for proactive measures to support the industry and protect jobs.

As C&D Lumber prepares to close its mill in Riddle, the impact on the local community and the workers cannot be understated. The closure serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by the wood products industry and the importance of finding sustainable solutions for its long-term viability.