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U.S. Looks To Chilean Pine

WASHINGTON - Hoping to help wood-starved mills in the Northwest, Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy is pledging greater efforts to allow the importation of pine logs from Chile.

But he said he remains concerned about pest infestations and has asked for an environmental-impact statement before any shipments begin. Espy said he expects the Forest Service's assessment to be completed by Tuesday.

"I assure you that USDA is very much aware of the urgent need of timber mills in the Pacific Northwest for additional sources of imported wood," Espy said in a letter this week to Rep. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Espy said if pest concerns are addressed, the plan is to adopt interim regulations that would become permanent sometime in mid-1994. Steve Jenning, an aide to Wyden, said yesterday the interim rules could make it possible to begin importing logs this fall.