Alcan Forest Products, based in Ketchikan, Alaska, says they’re working diligently to determine whether it’s financially worthwhile for them to ship timber, logged along the central coast of Oregon, to China and Japan.
Eric Nichols tells News Lincoln County that they are investigating how much timber they might handle in the central Lincoln County area through purchases from private land owners or buying logs right off a truck. Nichols says if they do indeed proceed, they would likely de-bark the logs at a facility near Toledo, then truck them to the new Newport International Terminal for shipment to Asia. Nichols says logs to Japan would go for higher end home construction while the rest would likely be converted into construction cement forms for the building boom that continues in China despite the world-wide recession.
Nichols said there is a lot of 40 to 50 year old timber in the central coast area that is quite harvestable and that Alcan is talking to a number of timber owners. Nichols said they would anticipate only partial shiploads due to the limited depth of the bay near the terminal. However, Port of Newport General Manager Don Mann reports that there is a supplemental request into the Army Corps of Engineers to come in and dredge the bay deeper so that it could handle any log ship of any size. But short of that, Nichols said they would partially load a log ship at Newport, then head up or down the coast to pick up the rest of their load either at Astoria or Coos Bay – then head for Asia.
Nichols said they expect to have their feasibility study done within the next month or two.
Meanwhile, Mann said that the International Terminal is open to any and all log or lumber export companies and that there could be more inquiries from various forest products companies as time goes on. Meanwhile the port continues to work toward a lease agreement with Teevin Brothers of Rainier Oregon which proposes to load one ship a month with logs destined for Asian ports. Teevin Brothers officials said recently that they fully expect to proceed on those plans as soon as possible.
Meanwhile a neighborhood complaint has been filed with the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) seeking to ban the use of Moore Road as a throughway for logging trucks from Highway 20 to the International Terminal. City Community Development Director Derrick Tokos told News Lincoln County that he’s still waiting word back from LUBA on when the city and the neighbors will argue their cases before the board. Neighbors contend that having 50 logging trucks or more a day coming and going on Moore Road would damage their quality of life as well as pose motorist and pedestrian safety threats. The city disagrees, adding that Moore Road was built to handle heavy truck traffic. It has very thick pavement and the city is committed to improving sight distances at both the top and bottom of Moore Road. Testimony before the Newport City Council revealed that Moore Road has always been the route that heavy seafood trucks use going to and from the fish processing plants on the Bayfront. Logging trucks also used to drop off their logs at the International Terminal in the 1970s through the 1990s using Moore Road as the primary access way to the Bay Road just east of Newport.
Tokos told News Lincoln County that a LUBA decision could be several months away, but even then either party could appeal the decision to the State Court of Appeals or eventually to the State Supreme Court. Usually the process through those two courts are pretty quick, on average.