HELENA, Mont. -

The following is a news release from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Last year, close to 7,000 workers made a living in Montana's forest products industry with total earnings of nearly $300 million. This week, the industry takes center stage for Montana Forest Products Week, with events planned around the state.

"Working forests and our industry partners provide countless benefits to Montanans," said State Forester Bob Harrington. "Having an integrated forest products infrastructure in the state is something we shouldn't take for granted: it's integral to forest management across all ownerships." Harrington also expressed his concern for mill closures since the 2008 economic downturn and the precarious position of many of the remaining mills in the state due to timber supply concerns. "Without mill capacity, our ability to manage forests - for a variety of objectives and benefits - will be serverely impacted. They are vital to the future of forest management in Montana,"said Harrington.

Todd Morgan, Director of Forest Industry Research with the University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research, predicts a better year for the forestry industry and the state's highly skilled workforce. "Sales value of Montana's primary wood and paper products during 2012 was up 25 percent from 2011. With the ongoing rebound in housing markets and increasing wood products prices, this upward trend has continued during 2013."

In 2011, the Montana Legislature established Montana Forest Products Week to honor the forest products sector-- extending appreciation for the locally made wood products, forest stewardship, gainful employment, and access to public and private forests provided to Montana's citizens.  

Montana's forest products industry produces quality products for local, domestic and international markets.  Montana businesses produce a wide range of products from dimensional lumber to interior finishes, biomass fuel and wood based chemicals. 

Montana's forestry sector has a strong stewardship ethic and commitment to sustainability. Many of our state's private forests are third party certified.   The American Tree Farm System has certified 170,000 acres of forestland, representing 431 family forests and 1.2 million acres of corporate-owned and managed timberland are certified.

Events for the week are currently planned in and around Missoula, Kalispell, Columbia Falls, St Regis, Lolo, Anaconda, and Seeley Lake.  The Missoula Chamber of Commerce and Kalispell Chamber of Commerce will both hold Timber Tours this year to showcase forest management activities, processing facilities and niche markets.   A schedule of events and information about Montana's forest products sector is available at: http://dnrc.mt.gov/Forestry/Assistance/ForProdWeek