Wood products resonate in Cowlitz County

Two stories came out this week in the Longview Daily News that show the long-lasting resonance of the timber and pulp and paper industries in Cowlitz County in Southwest Washington. First is news of a holiday gift drive led by Nippon Paper Industries, the owner of the Longview pulp mill. The local roots of both Nippon and the pulp mill go back a long ways – the pulp mill was owned by Weyerhaeuser until it sold the facility to Nippon last year, and Nippon and Weyerhaeuser were longtime partners in the NORPAC paper mill in Longview.

Nippon, which operates the former Weyerhaeuser pulp mill as Nippon Dynawave Packaging Company, said it wanted the holiday gift drive to continue Weyerhaeuser’s legacy in the Cowlitz County community.

Nippon, a former partner of Weyerhaeuser that now owns its old pulp mill in Longview, raised about $17,000 and piles of donations from its 550 employees to be distributed to various nonprofit groups.

President John Carpenter said he was not surprised at the level of participation.

“Weyerhaeuser has always had strong community outreach,” he said during a break from lugging boxes of donations. “Since Nippon is a new name in the community, we wanted to do some outreach to get our name out there and do something for the community where our employees live.”

…Carpenter said Nippon’s community engagement will continue to gain momentum throughout the year.

“I’m very proud of our folks stepping up and helping the community,” he said. “The holidays are always a good time to help because there is so much need, but we will continue to ramp up the outreach in the coming months.”

The roots of the timber industry run deep in Cowlitz County, writes Longview City Council member Ken Botero in an op-ed this week.

We began this wonderful journey in 1923 as a lumber community due to the enormous timber resources in the area. As we look around the beautiful environment we still see those outstanding forests that led our way.

…The advances in construction, such as cross-laminated timber, combined with the knowledge that wood building materials produce less air and water pollution, require less energy, and produce less CO2 emissions than other building materials, mean that forest products will continue to play a key role in our state’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions. If we were to work to enhance what is already here, could we — the citizens of Longview — provide the opportunity for more efficient use of energy for communities in the Northwest, especially Southwest Washington, and across the country? As Brian Hatfield has brought to our attention, “Our future airline flights could be powered by fuel made from forest products.”

We are privileged to have outstanding research departments at the University of Washington and Washington State University opening doors to the future in our forest products. Could we see a partnership with Boeing? The possibility is there.

Throughout the state more than 17,000-plus businesses are related to forest products. The overall direct/indirect jobs impact numbers for the last recorded year (2013) was listed at 105,000 workers in the state, earning $4.9 billion in wages.