Implications of Working Forest Impacts on Jobs and Local Economies
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The sustainability of working forests and the infrastructure of mills and other forest uses are to a substantial degree interconnected. The impact of working forests on rural jobs has been of special interest given the dependence of timber dominant communities on forest-related jobs. We summarize what is known about the number of jobs supported by working forests in Washington, both direct and indirect, whether they are lost if a mill closes, where these jobs are located, what impact closures have on mill infrastructure and investments to remain competitive, and the probable impact of closures on timber harvest and forest management. We note that the decline in log exports over the last decade has more than offset the decline in Washington’s harvest, resulting in a stable to increasing capacity for lumber production. We also characterize the impact of changes in forest management on the infrastructure. We assume a general theme that ensuring viability of working forests to provide integrated economic and ecological outputs is an important public priority.