Washington recognizes critical role of state’s forestry industry


It’s appropriate that right around the time Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared Washington Forest Products Industry Week, the state Department of Commerce installed former state legislator Brian Hatfield as the department’s first forestry sector lead.

As the Commerce department describes, the state’s forestry industry plays an important role in Washington’s economy, so it makes sense that it would receive recognition:

Older than statehood, Washington’s forest products sector has provided wise stewardship of our natural resources and community sustaining, family wage jobs for over 165 years.  Despite challenges, the industry’s ability to innovate, modernize and diversify provides proof that this giant piece of Washington’s past will also play a critical role in our future.

Hatfield is also an appropriate representative for the industry at the state level:

As a product of Washington’s timber country himself, Brian Hatfield’s passionate support for rural economic development and the defense of our state’s natural resources industries stood out during his 26 years of service, in and around the State Legislature.

Meanwhile, Inslee declared Oct. 18-24 as Washington Forest Products Industry Week, coinciding with National Forest Products Week.

“The governor’s announcement is yet another validation that products from the forest are renewable and sustainable,” said Mark Doumit of the Washington Forest Protection Association. “It helps communicate the reality that responsibly managed forests are essential to our lives and livelihoods here in Washington.”

…Gov. Inslee’s proclamation notes that the industry supports more than 41,000 direct jobs and another 63,000 forestry-related jobs, paying wages of nearly $4.9 billion a year. It also recognizes forests’ “critical role in combating climate change due to the natural process of photosynthesis where trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, release oxygen into the atmosphere and capture carbon, which is stored in wood products for the life of the product.”

The state Department of Commerce notes that the state’s forestry industry has several new technologies on the horizon.

Advancements 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 generate less CO2 emissions than other common building materials, means that forest products will continue to play a key role in our  state’s efforts to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions.  Likewise, the age-old use of biomass to power sawmills and pulp and paper mills, is being modernized and adapted on a broader scale for more efficient use to provide renewable energy for communities in the Pacific Northwest and across the country. Even our future airline flights could be powered by jet fuel made from forest products, if projects under the direction of the University of Washington and Washington State University continue to be successful.  This research has already sparked the interest of the Department of Defense, Boeing, Alaska Airlines and other commercial carriers.