PORTLAND - Increased imports and dwindling log supplies contributed to lower lumber production in all but two Western states last year, according to 2001 state totals released by Western Wood Products Association. The association released final industry totals for last year following its annual survey of nearly 300 mills in the 12 Western states.

Oregon retained its position as the top lumber producing state in the country. Production in Oregon rose 2.2 percent in 2001 to 6.06 billion board feet, matching 1999's total. Estimated wholesale value of Oregon's lumber was $1.93 billion.

Washington finished as the second-largest lumber producing state with a 2.9 percent decrease to 4.26 billion board feet, worth an estimated $1.34 billion. Lumber production in California, third in the state rankings, fell 13.9 percent to 2.73 billion board feet, the state's lowest output since 1963. California's lumber production was valued at $1.13 billion.

Oregon, Washington and California accounted for more than 79 percent of the West's lumber output last year. Oregon and Wyoming were the only Western states to realize production gains from the previous year.

Total Western lumber production in 2001 slipped 4.2 percent to 16.45 billion board feet. Inland production, down more than 500 million board feet from year 2000, accounted for most of the region's decline as mills struggled to secure log supplies.

Despite the decrease, the West's percentage of U.S. production remained steady at 47.5 percent. Estimated value of Western lumber produced in 2001 was $5.52 billion, compared to $6.15 billion in 2000 and $7.37 billion in 1999.

Production and estimated wholesale value for other Western states were: Idaho, 1.8 billion board feet, $640 million; Montana, 1.1 billion board feet, $337 million; South Dakota, 164 million board feet, $51 million; and Wyoming, 172 million board feet, $50 million.

Given the decline in the lumber industry in the "Four Corner" states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, the totals were combined. The four states produced 157 million board feet valued at $48 million in 2001.

There was no lumber production in Nevada in 2001. Alaska's lumber production totaled 56 million board feet and was not factored into the Western total.

U.S. lumber consumption was unchanged in 2001 at 53.9 billion board feet. Housing starts rose to 1.6 million units from 1.57 million units in 2000. Single-family housing, the largest market for lumber, reached 1.27 million units, the second-highest total since the late-1970s. Each new single-family home uses an average of 14,325 board feet of softwood lumber.

Western mills faced record import volumes in the market during 2001. Despite weak lumber prices, U.S. lumber imports rose to an all-time high of 20.1 billion board feet. Canadian imports increased 2 percent to 18.7 billion board feet. Imports from Europe climbed 58 percent to 605 million board feet, led by Germany with 200 million board feet shipped to the U.S.

Western Wood products Association represents lumber manufacturers in the 12 Western states and Alaska. Based in Portland, WWPA compiles lumber industry statistics and provides business information, grading and technical support services to the industry.

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