Tree Frog Forestry News

Shortage of affordable logs, tough economic forces buffet Montana timber industry

November 17, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

At Sun Mountain Lumber in Deer Lodge, about 50 of its 160-person workforce got pink slips this fall – but owner Sherm Anderson says the sawmill and timber company is still losing money. “We laid off one shift, and all that does is slow down the bleeding, to where you think you can absorb the loss,” he told MTN News. “It doesn’t make you profitable. … The question is, how long can that go on?” Sun Mountain isn’t alone; almost all of Montana’s sawmills and lumber plants have seen cutbacks in hours or personnel this year. A perfect storm of market and other forces is bludgeoning an iconic Montana industry that already has shrunk dramatically in the past three decades, from more than 30 mills down to nine solid-wood sawmills today.