Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday: Sawmills and Local Wood

local money

Since January, when I sent letters to my two Senators about getting the objections rule out, I have been on Senator Udall’s mailing list (I’ll say more about that experience in a later post).

Here’s his email, which you can apply to your own area:

Dear Fellow Coloradan,

Small businesses are the cornerstone of our local economies and the embodiment of the American dream. Colorado’s small businesses create thousands of home-grown jobs and are the primary engine of our economic growth. From Durango to Greeley and Lamar to Craig, these Main Street businesses support good-paying jobs, sustain middle class families, and reinforce that entrepreneurial spirit which encourages the best and brightest to set up shop right here in Colorado.

Mark Udall

This Saturday, Nov. 30 is Small Business Saturday — a day dedicated to supporting our local small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. Small Business Saturday is also an opportunity to support our friends, families and neighbors who work tirelessly every day to keep their businesses and our communities running strong.

Do you know an outstanding small business in your community? I’d love to hear about it.

From the restaurants that line Main Street in Grand Junction to the Old Colorado City shops in Colorado Springs, Colorado small businesses have something for everyone. I’ve met many small business owners throughout our state, and they never cease to impress me with their innovative drive and that ever-present Western spirit of strength and independence.

Recently, for example, I visited Hester’s Log and Lumber sawmill in Kremmling, a small business that the Hester family has owned and operated for 26 years. And on a visit to Pueblo I dropped by Hopscotch Bakery, where local residents can find homemade cakes and sandwiches.

I hope you will join me in pledging to support Colorado small business owners and participate in Small Business Saturday.

It made me wonder whether, in some states, like Oregon, visiting a lumber mill would be seen to be a political statement. In Colorado, it’s just another small business, like a bakery. And it’s considered to be good to buy from local folks from which money stays in the community. I wonder why that wouldn’t be the case, say, in Oregon. Are timber harvesting practices more destructive (don’t think so)? Are the aesthetics more important to people there? Is it the history of Big Timber and the Timber Wars? I don’t know, but since I’ve been a resident of both states, I wonder.

2 Comments

  1. It is not easy to visit a large modern wood processing plant theses days. They are too big and they have to much liability, like any large factory or tech campus.
    Most small sawmills take on the character of their owners and employees, like other small businesses.
    We still have several small sawmills here it Coos County. We could have dozens more.
    We are almost totally dependent on private timber, even though federal timber land accounts for over 70% of our forest land base. The only thing that the federal forests produce is small diameter Douglas fir and white wood, from multi million board foot thinnings sales. It is impossible to manufacture these trees profitablely by a small sawmill. It takes large mulitmillion dollar facilities that can compete on the world market. These timber sales required large capital investments that most small sawmills cannot afford. They do not provide the materials they need for their special markets.
    Small sawmills develop an interesting symbioic relationship with their communities, not only providing lumber but also wood shavings, sawdust, firewood, and odd lots of lumber for the creative wood scavenger. Of course not to mention jobs, and a need for an endless supply of parts and services.
    Many people do enjoy visiting and buying wood from a small sawmill. A very different experience for Home Depoe, usually not as convenient but, to some more interesting.
    I have always found it ironic that the enviromental community who also pretend to support the production and purchase of local goods have push for the laws that make timber harvest from our federal forests lands for local small mills impossible.

  2. Colorado vs. Oregon: Here in Oregon, most of the timber cut is from private lands, so the political dynamic is different. The “greens” focus most of their energies on opposing harvests of federal lands.

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