Montrose, CO-based Montrose Forest Products recently announced that the company is working toward a $20 million mill upgrade that involves the harvesting of Ponderosa pine from the San Juan National Forest for processing. According to reports, the potential upgrade depends on the approval from counties where the timber will be harvested, along with a commitment from the National Forest of long-term timber sales.
If all goes as planned, the mill would manufacture lumber for construction and decking, including one-by-four, one-by-six, and one-by-eight sizes. Montrose has requested sufficient Ponderosa stock to process 20 million board feet annually over the next two decades.
San Juan National Forest managers and Montezuma County officials have been working to determine how to go about thinning overstocked forests in an effort to reduce the risk of serious beetle infestation and dangerous wildfires, so the announcement by Montrose was welcome.
Resource forester for Montrose, Norm Birtcher, said that, once they have the counties’ blessings and sales assurances, the company plans to move ahead with its efforts. He anticipates the completion of the mill upgrade would take about two years, and said the San Juan Forest had been cooperative to work with. If all moves ahead as planned, the upgrade would result in an increase in logging in Dolores and Montezuma counties, in addition to thinning Archuleta and La Plata counties’ Ponderosa stands over time.
In the summer of 2017, Montrose performed a test that involved milling lumber from 12 truckloads of Ponderosa pine logged near Mancos and north of Dolores at one of the company’s mills in South Dakota. According to Birtcher, the test was successful. If Montrose does get approval and moves forward, its efforts will result in additional jobs in the logging industry, while helping support the economy.
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