Softwood Forest Products Buyer


Feature Story


Logging Pacific Albus
COLLINS Introduces Cutting Edge Sawmill Operation

By Wayne Miller

Boardman, Ore.—The Collins Companies, a “ground floor” name in Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified Softwood and hardwood products, recently entered its latest venture with GreenWood Tree Farm Fund (GTFF), to produce Pacific Albus® lumber products.

Softwood manufacturing began at the Collins Pine Company sawmill in Chester, California in 1943 and the facility was remodeled in 2002. The 94,000-acre Collins Almanor Forest is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. This facility produces Ponderosa Pine, White Fir, Incense Cedar, Sugar Pine and Douglas Fir. Equipment at this location includes a sawmill, planer, dry kilns and is operated by electric power cogeneration. Products available include: specialty lumber products; pre-rip lumber products; rough kilndried lumber; surfaced kiln-dried lumber; and dimension.

Don Rice, Managing Director of Resource Management, Greenwood Resources and Lee Jimerson, Pacific Albus Product Manager, Collins Companies, in the Greenwood Tree Farm.
Collins also manufactures Softwoods from its 90,000-acre Lakeview Forest in southern Oregon and northeastern California. Managed on an unevenage, sustained yield basis. Manufacturing began at this location in 1945. Equipment at this facility includes a sawmill, planer and dry kilns. With production at 65 million board feet annually, the operation produces Ponderosa Pine, White Fir, Incense Cedar and Lodgepole Pine. Products available include: appearance and industrial grade lumber; specialty lumber products and dimension.

A hardwood species ideal for multiple uses including moulding and millwork, cut stock, cabinet and furniture applications, and edge-glued panels, Pacific Albus is plantation grown on the Boardman Tree Farm in Boardman, Ore., three hours east of the Portland headquarters for Collins. According to Lee Jimerson, Collins Pacific Albus Product Manager, the quality of the product is consistent, uniform and always available. “These products are FSC ‘Pure’ certified under the principles and criteria of the FSC,” he said.

The Collins Cos. is an investor in GTFF and was hired by GTFF to build and operate the state-of-the-art sawmill, Upper Columbia Mill (UCM). As detailed in this unique agreement, The Collins Companies also markets the lumber products produced.

Galen Smith, Quality Control Supervisor and José Sanchez, Green-end Shipping Coordinator, Upper Columbia Mill.
Managing Director of Resource for GreenWood Resources Don Rice said the Boardman Tree Farm, which consists of approximately 25,000 acres, is continually planted and managed on a short rotation basis, targeting around 12 years harvest age. “The Upper Columbia Mill, which is managed by our partner, The Collins Companies, is located in the middle of the plantation,” or four miles.”

The log yard at the mill is limited because when the trees are cut, they normally go directly into the sawmill. “The tree is literally cut down on day one and could be processed on the same day or at the latest on the third day,” Rice explained.

Managed by GreenWood Resources, the Boardman Tree Farm utilizes 18 employees on site that are primarily irrigation specialists. “Many of our activities are done by contractors so there are about 60 full time contractor employees associated with the farm,” Rice said. “That total includes the farming site, site prep, planting, crop care and harvesting activities.”

Galen Smith, Quality Control Supervisor for the Upper Columbia Mill, said current production for the sawmill, which includes a board and timber line, is approximately 3.5 million board feet per month. “We’re averaging about 125,000 feet through the board trimmer and usually 60,000 feet of timbers each day,” he explained.

Pacific Albus ceiling grid and wall-of-wood—samples of each grade produced.
Operating currently with 70 employees with a capacity for 100 on two shifts, Jimerson said the operation includes two sorting systems,” one for the timber side, cutting 3x4’s, 4x6’s Rice said, “so we are an off-highway haul from the farm to the sawmill and the average haul distance is three and 3x7’s, and another for our boards, cutting 4/4 and 5/4.”

Jimerson also said the green chain consists of sixteen slanted sort bins, allowing them to sort by thickness and length. From the sort bins, the lumber heads down the green chain to the MoCo stickering stacker, which makes 8’ wide by almost 6’ high units.

The mill also utilizes five dry kilns manufactured by SII Dry Kilns located in Lexington, N.C. “The kilns are SII side loading cross flow dry kilns with five chambers each holding 125,000 board feet per charge on a 4/4 basis,” Jimerson explained. “SII kilns are fantastic. However, you don’t see many SII kilns on the West Coast. They give you very even air flow through the units, better than most other kilns, in part, because the lumber is stacked in 8-foot wide units and are only stacked two units deep in the kilns.”

“In the beginning the green lumber weighs in at about five pounds a board foot,” Jimerson continued. “When it dries, it’s about 1.6 pounds per board foot.”

SII Dry Kilns, loaded with Pacific Albus lumber.
The kilns and planer facility are located nine miles from the sawmill at the Port of Morrow, due to the pre-existing steam from the PGE Coyote Springs Electrical Co-Gen facility. The steam is a by-product of the co-gen operation, thereby eliminating the necessity of installing a boiler.

Transportation doesn’t get much easier for a sawmill. “We have a Union Pacific rail siding at the planer, and we are less than a mile away from the Port of Morrow dock where the containers are located on a barge that goes down the Columbia River to the Port of Portland for export,” Jimerson said. In addition, we are right on highway I-84, so we’re on a terrific transportation hub.”

Available at the mill’s onsite conference room and online at are photos of each grade of the lumber with the grade specifications. Jimerson went on to explain with staining, Pacific Albus may be finished to look like many other species because of its light color. “You can make it look like maple, alder, cherry, walnut or even Incense Cedar.”

Among the benefits, he said, the product is great for resawing. “It sands really well, embosses well and, because of its low density, it’s very good for applications where weight is critical such as snowboards, trade show booths and pallet/packaging. The low density also makes it ideal for thermal insulated applications and acoustic applications, such as wooden ceiling grids.”

Pacific Albus grading line, (from left to right) Mike Hendrickson, Isaac Buck and Ian Rose.
Collins’ target markets for Pacific Albus include the entire supply chain. “We market to exporters, distributors, retailers and OEM’s,” Jimerson noted.

The family-owned Collins Cos. was established in 1855, when T.D. Collins began timber operations in Pennsylvania. By the turn of the century, the family had expanded west to manage 94,000 acres in northeastern California. Today the firm’s holdings also include three forests, each with an associated sawmill, including the 120,000 acre Collins’ Pennsylvania forest with Kane Hardwood sawmill; the 91,000 acre Collins’ Lakeview Forest in southern Oregon and northern California with Lakeview Sawmill (Fremont Sawmill); and the 95,000 acre Collins’ Almanor forest in northern California with Chester Sawmill (Collins Pine). Additionally, Collins owns Richwood Hardwood sawmill in West Virginia. Collins Products LLC, which manufactures TruWood® Siding and Trim and Collins Pine Particleboard®, are both available FSC certified. For more information, visit

Tray sorter—gentle on the lumber after surfacing and during packaging.


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