US lumber companies head South

Michael Hoover hoov at SPAMfreenet.tlh.fl.us
Wed Aug 9 10:16:04 MDT 2000


> Logging's Shift South Brings Concern on Oversight
> By DOUGLAS JEHL
> UNION MILLS, N.C. -- In a major shift, timber companies have stepped
> up logging operations in the South, where they face less regulation
> than in the carefully monitored forests of the Pacific Northwest.
> Officials also pointed to a wider use of clear-cutting operations that
> have laid bare vast tracts of forest.
> The relentless appetite for wood is being fed by an economy that has
> produced a strong market for construction. Small towns like Union
> Mills in western North Carolina have felt the boom in the form of chip
> mills, like the one here owned by the Willamette Industries Inc. of
> Portland, Ore., that grind wood into chips for making paper. More than
> 100 such mills have sprung up across the South in the past 15 years,
> most since 1995.

St. Joe Co. (formerly St. Joe Paper Co.) is located in Jacksonville, Florida.
Established with Dupont family money in 1930s, company is state's largest
landowner (about 1M acres or 3% of state land).  Until recently, St. Joe's
principal activity - papermaking - involved logging its north & west Florida
landholdings although the company was involved in railroads, banking, sugar,
among others things, as well.

In last decade, St. Joe has transformed itself into Florida's largest real
estate developer.  The company is using about 200,000 acres (20%) of its
land for up-scale planned residential developments (I believe state leads
US in gated "communities") and is selling off other 80% that company
believes has no significant real estate development potential (at least
for several decades).

Land sales have not occurred as quickly as St. Joe hoped, in part, because
there are about 3M acres of forest land currently on the market in the
south.  Competition to sell has driven down land prices.  Moreover,
increased milling competition has driven down pulp prices and region has
recently witnessed mill closures.   Michael Hoover





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