In the Flathead Valley, Timber has been an economic driver for more than 100 years. Now, 20 percent of the area’s economy comes from timber.
The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce gave business and legislative officials an inside look at how the industry works.
"Timber is just absolutely a critical part of our economy. It’s one of our legacy industries, I guess. It’s why Kalispell is here, at least one of the reasons," said Kalispell Chamber of Commerce President Joe Unterreinner.
To prove it, legislative candidates and business officials were invited to tour active forest management sites where timber is harvested.
“We’re generating new dollars from the utilization of our natural resources,” said F.H. Stoltze Land Manager Paul McKenzie.
McKenzie says the timber industry has been steady, so far.
“I wouldn’t say it’s up or down,” he said.
But McKenzie explains there is still a lot of uncertainty.
“Without a doubt, the No. 1 concern of every sawmill in the state of Montana is log supply and not knowing where our next log is going to come from. It’s really difficult to run a business when you’re running under that kind of uncertainty,” McKenzie said.
That’s why he hopes this tour will play a critical role in building industry stability. His bottom-line message is that timber harvests and sales provide jobs.
“The 7 million board feet that are going to come off this timber sale will run our sawmill a little over two months throughout this winter and in this next spring. That’s going to employ 120 employees that we operate on, on a daily basis,” Mckenzie said.
But, with any industry, there are hurdles. That’s why organizers hope the business leaders and lawmakers who took the tour see the dollars and cents of timber.