The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor have both said the forest products industry is an “essential critical infrastructure workforce in the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

These are allowed to operate during shutdowns. Most states are following the federal guidelines when ordering people to shelter in place.

Here are updates for three Appalachian states this morning, thanks to AHMI for this information:


The PA Governor’s Office has amended its list of companies permitted to work as “life-sustaining business only” to now INCLUDE sawmills. The change came late Saturday and sawmills join logging and forestry. Veneer plants and secondary wood processing are ordered to close but can apply for a waiver to operate. The PA waiver application is available here.

New York

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets has revised the guidance for “Essential Businesses” to include forest products and those involved in forestry operations, logging, manufacture of lumber and paper products, and the distribution of those products are “essential and exempt from the State’s guidance for workforce reduction.”


The Governor issued a stay-at-home order on Sunday, saying only essential businesses, as defined by the Homeland Security document (which includes forest products), are permitted to stay open. Gov. Mike DeWine said,”these are generally the accepted businesses that are essential for us to continue to live.” The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Monday and will remain in effect until April 6.

Other states

If you are in one of the remaining nine states of the Appalachian region and your state is considering “shelter in place measures,” please ask your state legislators and Governor to follow the U.S. Homeland Security and Department of Labor guidance that recognizes the forest products industry from forestry through secondary manufacturing as “essential.”

This will help keep the forest products industry to work at the discretion of company owners.

If your state requires a waiver to keep working, please list on the waiver application that forests products are essential for:

  • Wood chips that produce the fiber for masks, filters and toilet tissue
  • Hardwood lumber for pallets to move food, medical supplies and more
  • Hardwood fuel pellets for energy production
  • Hardwood ties for railroad transportation
  • AND paychecks for millions of America’s families.

NHLA will be providing important information as it becomes available and will have it available on in the near future.

If you have questions or other needs, please contact Lorna Christie at or my phone at 901-265-9463.