Jessica Ward runs a stacker at Hampton Mill in Darrington in 2019. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Jessica Ward runs a stacker at Hampton Mill in Darrington in 2019. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Hampton Lumber makes big purchase for small-town Darrington

The town’s largest employer acquired 145,000 acres of timber land from Weyerhaeuser.

DARRINGTON — Hampton Lumber, a Portland-based company, has purchased 145,000 acres of timber land to supply its sawmill in Darrington.

“I think it just really reflects our long-term commitment to operating in the area,” Hampton Lumber spokesperson Kristin Rasmussen said. “In forestry, we think in decades, not necessarily weeks, months or years.”

Hampton Lumber owns and operates nine sawmills in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. The Darrington mill is that town’s largest employer.

“This land acquisition brings stability to the operations here in Darrington,” said Mayor Dan Rankin, who noted he sees the purchase as a positive for the city.

The population is less than 1,500, and 160 people work at the mill.

Darrington is still considered a timber town, Rankin said, but it has far fewer sawmills than it did in the 1970s and 1980s. Most of the mills today are one-person operations.

Rankin said he learned the purchase was in the works about a month ago.

“It shouldn’t change anything at the mill today,” he said.

Rasmussen said the Darrington mill won’t see many changes in the short term. Hampton isn’t hiring more people at the mill, or expanding operations.

The company relies heavily on private landowners, as well as state forests, to supply the operation in Darrington, Rasmussen said. In the long term, this means the mill has a more stable supply of timber.

“This will be a small part of what the mill consumes as far as timber goes,” Rasmussen said. “But it’s so important to have our own land to help provide a more stable supply.”

Hampton Lumber purchased the land from Weyerhaeuser, the Seattle-based timber giant that owns more than 12 million acres in the U.S. The 145,000 acres Hampton Lumber purchased are in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, Chelan and Kittitas counties.

Hampton Lumber is based in Portland but owns and operates three mills in Washington. It is a fourth-generation family-owned company.

“This purchase reflects our ongoing commitment to wood manufacturing in Washington,” Hampton Lumber CEO Steve Zika said in a news release.

Katie Hayes: katie.hayes@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.

Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.

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