Working Forests, a statewide forest products advocacy organization, says it has received a memo from the federal Department of Homeland Security recognizing forestry businesses as part of the country’s essential infrastructure in the context of the country’s COVID-19 response.
In a news release Saturday, the organization said a letter from the department stated “Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products” are part of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.
Working Forests said the industry’s role “goes far beyond keeping the manufacture of paper towels and toilet paper humming at 100%, as it currently is doing.”
It seems possible that the distinction of the industry’s infrastructure role could be a factor in allowing forest products workers to keep working even if further restrictions on movement are ordered. The Washington Forest Protection Association (WFPA) and the American Forest Resource Council (AFRC) sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, citing the industry’s role in providing building materials that could be used in structures needed things such as emergency medical and lodging structures.
WFPA Executive Director Mark Doumit and AFPA President Travis Joseph said in a statement that work in the forests “naturally occurs with little interpersonal interaction and close contact with others” and modern-day lumber mills operate in an open environment with workers well spread out.