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IDAHO SAWMILLS JUST MISS BOARD-FEET RECORD

SHARE IDAHO SAWMILLS JUST MISS BOARD-FEET RECORD

Idaho sawmills produced 2.015 billion board feet of lumber in 1988, the second highest production year in the state's history.

Lumber officials reported last year's figures barely missed the rec-ord of 2.016 set the year before, but local lumber executives Saturday said 1989's production may decline slightly from previous years."The record years are clearly a function of demand for lumber nationwide, driven by fairly attractive mortgage rates and other economic factors (including) low construction and repair and remodeling costs," said Joe Hinson, executive vice president of the Intermountain Forest Industry Association.

Low interest rates in recent years have also nourished the industry's well-being as all Idaho mills are operating at capacity, Hinson said. "It's a good time for the wood products industry in Idaho."

However, the mills have not been as inundated with orders this year as the past two years, said Tom Richards, president of Idaho Forest Industries. "I think 1987 and 1988 will prove to be as good as we can do," he said.

Officials estimate about 90 percent of timber harvested in Idaho is divided evenly between federal and private lands. State lands contribute the rest. "I would guess 1989 will not be as (busy) because of a softening of demand" for lumber products, Richards said. Loggers would like to take more timber from federal lands to ease the quantity taken from limited private lands, he said.

Richards estimated that Idaho produces about 4 percent of the nation's lumber supply. Hinson said at least 98 percent of the state's finished lumber is used domestically, with the midwest and southwest taking a lion's share of the product. Idaho's timber industry employed 16,500 persons in factory and woods jobs in 1988.