Lumbering: A Sustainable Economy Is Produced by Lewis County Timber

In Lewis County, 52 Percent of the Forestland Base Is Working Forests, Creating Jobs That Pour Money Back Into the Local Economy

For 14 decades, since the 1880s, timber has been a driver of the economy in Lewis County. That economic engine continues to power Lewis County today.

The coming of the railroad and the dredging of the Chehalis River in the 1880s made possible the exploitation of the county’s major resource – timber.

Workers and equipment were brought in and logs and finished lumber were shipped downriver to Grays Harbor and by rail to the east. The introduction in the 1880s of the geared locomotive for steep grades and the donkey engine to move logs meant that previously inaccessible stands of immense trees fell to the crosscut saw. Steam-powered mills featured circular saws, gang edgers, and power log turners and drivers. Lumbering became big business.

Yes, the roots of forestry run deep in Lewis County, and the industry remains a vital part of the economy today. The forest products we produce today – paper, wood, building materials and packaging, even Christmas tree farms – are renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and sustainable.

These natural products play an important role in fighting climate change since they capture carbon and store it in wood for the life of the product. But these products are more than just green. Forest products and the jobs they create are an integral part of life in our county.

Thriving Forests Benefit Everyone

A healthy forest can form the heart of a vibrant community, which is why maintaining this vital resource for future generations is crucial to Lewis County communities. During planting season three seedlings are planted on average for every tree harvested for wood, paper or other forest products. This ensures that the evergreen forest will continue to provide jobs and economic benefits in Lewis County for generations to come. Forestry products continue to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

Many sustainable forests in Washington are privately owned, and more than 2.1 million acres of state-forest trust lands are managed to produce non-tax revenue for essential public institutions. The land is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and the largest beneficiary of this revenue is K-12 public schools across the state

A Healthy Forest Means a Healthy Economy

Products made in Lewis County from sustainable, working forests are used across the world. Timber products such as packaging materials, lumber and paper underpin the modern economy. These products produced through sustainable processes are renewable and biodegradable.

In Lewis County, 52 percent of the forestland base, or 708,870 acres, are working forests that create jobs, pay taxes and pour money back into the local economy. Directly or indirectly, forest products have created nearly 6,000 jobs in Lewis County that paid more than $303 million in 2016. Those jobs paid $17 million in taxes directly back into the local economy.

Sustainable Forests Mean Sustainable Jobs

Forest jobs in Lewis County directly employed 2,444 people in 2016, a figure that rises to 5,708 when including indirect jobs. Since there are approximately 44,000 working age adults in Lewis County, that means more than one in seven working-age people have a job thanks to forestry. Modern sustainable forestry is a huge win-win on both the environmental front and employment rates.

These working forests produce a continuous supply of trees for the many wood, paper and pulp-based products we use daily. Approximately 70 percent of the timber harvest in Washington comes from these working forests, which sustain a manufacturing industry that employs over 100,000 workers statewide and generates $5.2 billion in wages annually.

Washington’s forests are an essential part of both Lewis County and the state’s history, culture, economy and environment, covering 23 million acres across Washington. For more information about how these forests contribute to Lewis County and the state as a whole, visit MoreThanAForest.org.