PRAIRIE CITY - The Prairie Wood Products sawmill is shutting down in the face of continued housing market woes and diminished timber supplies.

The company is terming the current closure as temporary.

The mill is laying off about 45 workers, according to Don Bodewig, Eastern Oregon regional manager for DR Johnson Lumber, Prairie Wood's parent company.

Bodewig called the layoffs regrettable but indicated they are linked to challenging times facing the industry as a whole. He cited the continuing downturn in the lumber markets and the lack of available timber as major factors. The major economic downturn for the nation also has had an impact, he said.

The schedule called for the Prairie Wood sawmill to stop work Tuesday, Sept. 30, while the planer mill will shut down Friday, Oct. 3.

Bodewig said the company plans to continue building its log inventory in the yard at Prairie City, in hopes of a rebound in the marketplace. The goal is to maintain a position to be competitive if and when the economy and supply improve.

The shutdown leaves DR Johnson, which owns five sawmills, with two mills in operation: Umpqua Lumber Co. and DR Johnson in Riddle, both in Southern Oregon. The Wallowa Forest Products mill in Wallowa and Grant Western Lumber Co. in John Day remain closed from an earlier closure.

"We will continue to monitor the market conditions on a daily basis," said Randy Crockett, chief operations officer for DR Johnson.

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