Challenges mount for NC timber industry – Though this year could turn out to be a down one in the region’s timber industry, some say, overall, it’s doing OK based on modern standards.

Based on forest regrowth and timber supply, life should be good for lumber companies in the Appalachian Mountains.

But that hasn’t held true in recent years, though there is hope for the future.

“In general, we’ve seen a 30 percent decline in pricing from the start of 2015 in a number of grades (of wood),” said Fred Hardin, a forester and leading salesman at Gilkey Lumber, a hardwood saw mill and dry kiln in Rutherdfordton.

A weakening of overseas markets, such as those in China and Vietnam, is a primary cause, he said.

The domestic demand for hardwood flooring also has dropped dramatically since last year and the beginning of this one, Hardin said.

And heavy rains during recent months have kept loggers from cutting trees, putting a damper on output, Hardin said.

Thin profit margins and high capital costs have added to hardships that hit the industry when the Great Recession drove down housing construction.

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