Tester calls on Forest Service and BLM to help Montana sawmills

Senator: Sound forest management depends on viable timber industry

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester is calling on the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to assist Montana’s sawmills as they face challenging times.

In letters to USFS Chief Tom Tidwell and BLM Director Neil Kornze, Tester pointed out that a number of recent events- both in the U.S. and abroad-have made lumber manufacturers less competitive, forcing some northwestern sawmills, including businesses in Montana, to lay off dozens of employees.

“In order for commercial timber harvest to remain a cost-effective tool for the Forest Service to achieve management objectives, we simply must have operating mills,” Tester wrote. “A sustainable timber industry is also closely tied to the economies of a number of Montana’s rural communities and the livelihoods of many Montana families. I urge you to work with folks on the ground to determine what steps the Forest Service can take to provide flexibility during this current downturn.”

Tester has recently heard concerns regarding the looming expiration of the Softwood Lumber Agreement, changes in market demand in Asia, as well as unfavorable exchange rates. Together, these challenges have created uncertainty for a number of sawmills.

Tester is also currently working with stakeholders in Montana to reintroduce his forest management reform plan, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

Tester’s letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell is available online HERE and his letter to BLM Director Neil Kornze is available HERE.