According to a Missoula TV station last week:
Tricon Timber in Mineral County will have to close if the U.S. Forest Service won’t compromise on their contract. Tricon recognized it can’t afford to complete the helicopter logging it promised in 2003 realizing that it’s just too expensive in today’s economy.
What’s sort of interesting is that just a short 16 months ago the Missoulian ran this article about this very same Tricon Timber, an article about Tricon finding a growing demand for metric lumber order in China. Yet today, this same Tricon Timber claims it would cease to exist if the federal government doesn’t bail it out by re-negotiating a 2003 timber sale contract? Does that seem a tad strange?
Here’s something else that should be clearly highlighted. According to an article in this weekend’s Missoulian:
A quandary that threatened the existence of one of the few large sawmill operations left in Montana moved toward resolution Friday evening. A spokeswoman said Sen. Jon Tester had just received written assurance from the U.S. Forest Service that Tricon Timber’s Aug. 12 deadline to complete an expensive helicopter logging project near Thompson Falls will be extended if a permanent agreement isn’t hammered out soon.
The Missoulian article went on to report:
“[T]he 2008 farm bill provided two options for relief for mills with onerous timber contracts. One is to grant contract extensions in 30-day increments to “hopefully spread the length of the contract over a longer period of time and lessen the impact they might have from a declining market.”
The other is a rate re-determination, to adjust for reduced market values and increased costs to contractors in these hard economic times. Since then, the Northern Region has granted 45 contracts and reduced the values of 40 contracts by 40 percent to 70 percent.”
So, what this means is that while some people are going around Montana claiming that we need to start having politicians mandate more logging on Montana’s National Forests, the very simple fact is that the Forest Service’s Northern Region has reduced the values of 40 different (already signed) timber sale contracts by 40% to 70%.
In other words, if the timber industry signed a contract with the federal government 3 or 5 or 9 years ago to log X amount of trees for, let’s say $100,000, now the timber industry gets to log that same amount of trees for $30,000 to $60,000. Wow! If only the federal government and politicians were this generous with “Bail outs” for homeowners facing foreclosure, eh?
Has anyone else around the country caught wind of the Forest Service reducing the value of timber sale contacts in your neck of the woods? If so, please feel free to make note of it in the comments section.
Finally, it should be noted that Tricon Timber was one of the timber mills who last month took part in $30,000 in Ads attacking the Alliance for Wild Rockies, which claimed “the Forest Service is being held hostage by a small group of professional obstructionists” and called for an end to the public appeals process and exempting many Montana national forest timber sales from judicial review.