Port sends out first log shipment since 2002
Shipment is first of kind since 2002 and helps keep jobs here
Michael O'Leary / The Herald
Longshoremen were busy in Port of Everett loading logs for shipment to China. Longshoreman fix lines for the ship crane to hoist the logs up and into the hold of the cargo ship.
Michael O'Leary / The Herald
Longshoremen were busy in Port of Everett loading logs for shipment to China. A ship crane hoists logs for placement in the hold of the ship.
Although those logs will be milled overseas, the shipment is keeping a web of people employed in the local timber industry during a time when demand for their skills is nearly nil.
That's important, given the recent closure of regional mills, including Northwest Hardwoods in Arlington.
"If the infrastructure isn't kept intact, half the people I work with would be out of business," said Eric Warren, operations manager for Everett-based Forest Marketing Enterprises, the log broker that organized suppliers for the shipment.
The cargo ship has been a visible presence at the Port of Everett the past few days, tied up just south of the Kimberly-Clark paper and pulp mills.
The shipment contains 5.2 million board feet, the equivalent of 1,300 truckloads of logs.
This is the first full log shipment the Port has handled since 2002, said John Mohr, the port's executive director.
"We are returning to our historic roots," he said.
The Port of Everett began shipping wood and wood products internationally from mills on the city waterfront in the 1920s. Everett used to be known as "the timber port," said port spokeswoman Lisa Lefeber.
But in recent years, there haven't been many logs moving through the port, other than a few partial boatloads, mainly bound for Japan.
The logs in this shipment are not old growth. Around a quarter of the timber comes from small landowners who wanted trees cleared from their property, Warren said.
Drivers trucked the timber to Smith Island, where Miller Shingle removed the bark.
Then the logs were floated in the Snohomish River and towed to the port's marine terminal to be loaded waterside onto the ship by longshoremen using cranes.
While there's still some appetite for timber for local mills, the wood products industry has been "pretty beat up" the past few years, Warren said. In China, the logs in today's shipment won't become lumber for homes; they're destined to be chipped and turned into composite board.
But China's business is keeping the area's network of loggers, truckers and longshoremen working, he said.
Despite competition from Canada and New Zealand, Warren said, China will likely continue to be interested in Northwest wood -- perhaps as many as three or four shipments a year.
"Timber is one of the few things we have that other countries want," he said.
Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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