Weyerhaeuser announces $1 million campaign to build Habitat Houses; new forest at Mount St. Helens means new beginnings for many families
MOUNT ST. HELENS, Wash. (May 18, 2005) – Tiny seedlings that Weyerhaeuser planted 25 years ago following Mount St. Helens’ dramatic eruption now stand 70-feet tall and are part of an ambitious $1 million campaign to work with Habitat for Humanity to shelter at least 25 families across the United States and Canada.
Steve Rogel, Weyerhaeuser chair, president and chief executive officer, announced the initiative to 200 dignitaries and guests that gather Wednesday, May 18, at Mount St. Helens. The announcement, marking 25 years since one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in North America, too place at the Forest Learning Center, which is operated on the mountain by Weyerhaeuser, the Washington Department of Transportation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
“Weyerhaeuser decided 25 years ago to give this forest a fresh start,” Rogel said. “Today we are partnering with Habitat for Humanity and our customers to give people in need a new beginning.”
Bill Corbin, Weyerhaeuser executive vice president for International and Industrial Wood Products, is championing the $1-million “Project Habitat” campaign as a way to illustrate the role this valuable resource plays in our communities.
“Wood is a renewable and vital resource that provides shelter and products people need for everyday living,” Corbin said. “Project Habitat is a powerful opportunity for Weyerhaeuser and our employees to change lives and help renew the communities where we live and work.”
The $1 million will be delivered in grant dollars from the Weyerhaeuser Co. Foundation and in packages of Weyerhaeuser lumber. Weyerhaeuser employees will work with Habitat for Humanity affiliates in 18 states and three Canadian provinces to complete 25 homes by May 2006.
“For many of us, this project has special meaning because every home will include some type of wood from Mount St. Helens,” Corbin said.
“This gift is possible in great part because of the strong linkage between our timberlands base and our network of mills across the United States and Canada,” Rogel said. “The integration of our timberlands and our mills positions us to serve customers efficiently. We will use this same integrated approach to provide lumber for families in need of shelter across the United States and Canada.
“Habitat for Humanity’s mission is about building a better future,” said Paul Leonard, Habitat’s chief executive officer. “Weyerhaeuser is about building a better future, too. The relationship is a natural one, and the fact that Mount St. Helens wood is already being harvested and will be used in these Habitat homes is a true testament to how adaptable life can be. This wood going into these homes, this gift, will make meaningful differences for all these families.”
Weyerhaeuser has owned forestland at Mount St. Helens for more than 100 years and is the largest private landowner in the area. The company suffered extensive losses in the 1980 eruption, but just months later began planting 18 million seedlings, each by hand. The trees have grown quickly in years since, mulched by a blanket of ash to deter weeds and hold moisture.
Today the conifers – Douglas-fir, noble fir and lodgepole pine – are growing so densely that thinning is needed to ensure the heartiest have the sunlight, nutrients and space needed to grow to maturity. Weyerhaeuser began thinning operations this spring and is sawing the trees into lumber at the company sawmill a few miles away.
“Employee volunteerism has always been strong at Weyerhaeuser,” Corbin said, “but energy for this project is already beyond our expectations. There is real zeal for this idea of building at least 25 Habitat homes to recognize the return of the working forest 25 years after the eruption.” 
Weyerhaeuser Company (NYSE: WY), one of the world’s largest integrated forest products companies, was incorporated in 1900. In 2004, sales were $22.7 billion. It has offices or operations in 19 countries, with customers worldwide. Weyerhaeuser is principally engaged in the growing and harvesting of timber; the manufacture, distribution and sale of forest products; and real estate construction, development and related activities. Additional information about Weyerhaeuser’s businesses, products and practices is available at www.weyerhaeuser.com .
About Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity, based in Americus, GA., is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,00th house and more than one million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build and are buying through no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. www.habitat.org