While most people think of Iowa’s top industries as corn, hogs and soybeans, timber is also one of the state’s high-dollar exports. Paul Tauke, a forestry supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says timber prices in the past decade have risen dramatically and now total 800-million dollars a year. Since 1993, Iowa has seen a price increase of more than 50-percent in mixed oak-hickory prices and a 300-to-400-percent increase in the price of silver maple. Tauke says furniture makers are using silver maple for interior framing on things like recliners and couches. He says the furniture industry used to use another type of wood, but they were halted by environmentalists.Tauke says the wood known as alder had been used heavily before 1993 or so and it grew underneath the so-called old growth forests on the West Coast but that land has been “locked up” and can no longer be cut. While we’re not exactly Washington State, he says Iowa has gotten an international reputation for being a prime producer of good wood. Tauke says Iowa’s now home to about two-point-six million acres of timberland. He says logs are being shipped from northeast Iowa to Europe, Japan and Korea and buying the highest quality hardwoods. Some of the best woods grown here, he says, include red oak, white oak, black cherry, hard maple, silver maple and black walnut.
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