Council working on new timber enterprise

Tribal Council continues work on two separate aspects of the Warm Springs Forest Products Industries closure.

One aspect is to cut the losses from the WSFPI shut-down, and the other is to bring in revenue through a new tribal enterprise.

The membership can learn the details of both projects at a General Council meeting, currently set for Monday, August 22. The planned location is the Agency Longhouse.

The WSFPI receiver, and the business consultant for the new timber enterprise, are expected to be on hand to answer questions.

The receiver—administering the WSFPI tribal court receivership proceeding—is Ed Hostman. The business turnaround consultant is Clyde Hamstreet and Hamstreet & Associates.

Hostman and Hamstreet met with Tribal Council in July, each providing an update on their work on behalf of the tribes.

Some finished lumber products at the mill were sold, bringing in some revenue to the receivership, Hostman said. This is now in an escrow account until the situation with the WSFPI creditors is finalized.

WSFPI had up to 500 creditors, he said. All but a few were unsecured creditors, meaning there is no WSFPI asset that can be taken and sold to satisfy their claims.

The main secured creditors include the tribes, through Credit; and VanPort International, the former WSFPI partner that marketed the lumber.

There would appear to be no chance of re-opening the WSFPI mill, according to the report from Hamstreet & Associates. The equipment is for the most part obsolete, driven by old technology, Mr. Hamstreet said.

Meanwhile, the tribal timber resource is a valuable trust asset. The issue to be addressed is how to maximize the financial gain to the tribes from the sale of the timber.

The plan will involve hauling logs to off-reservation mills.

According to the Hamstreet & Associates report: Harvesting and selling delivered logs should be more profitable than selling standing timber.

Logging and delivery should be generally competitive with off-reservation rates, the report says. One consequence of this: The current allowable timber cut—31 million board feet per year—is not sufficient to employ five logging companies.
An advisory group will work on a fair resolution and report back to Tribal Council and the membership.