Montana’s Forest Products Week

Oct 14, 2013

This week marks the third annual Montana “Forest Products Week”.  In 2011, the state legislature set-a-side a week every October, in order to recognize the value of Montana’s forest products industry, their contribution to the management of our forest lands, and to the stability of Montana’s economy. 

The week, commencing October 18 and running through October 24, is a wonderful opportunity for the public, and Montana’s elected officials, to learn more about an industry that has been instrumental in the growth of Montana’s economy since the F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Company established at its current Half-Moon site, just northwest of Columbia Falls in 1912.  

Montana’s appreciation week coincides with the National Forest Products Week established by a joint resolution of congress in 1960.  The joint resolution proclaimed that “our country and its people have always found constant strength, individual peace and personal pride in the bounty of forest and timber land; and from the beginning of our Nation’s founding, the forest and its products have provided a core of living and freedom touching and inspiring each citizen with majestic beauty and practical use.”  “As our only renewable resource, wood offers the availability and abundance to satisfy the Nation’s ever growing demand and through modern forestry we can be assured of a continuous supply of timber for the future.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsak states, “Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forest land, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America.”  Utilizing wood harvested through sustainable forestry practices in “green” building applications promotes a healthy environment and a strong economy.  

Wood as a “green” product has long been recognized by the wood products industry nationwide through a life cycle analysis which is a well-established set of methods for measuring the environmental impacts of a product or service across its entire life cycle; identifying the flow of materials and energy through the various stages, from the point of harvesting raw material, through manufacturing, construction, use, and finally, disposal. This “cradle-to-grave” assessment demonstrates using lumber or wood products in residential and non-residential construction leaves one of the smallest carbon footprints. In addition, when the entire life cycle of lumber is accounted for, each ton of wood carbon replaces up to 2.1 tons of atmospheric carbon.

Sustainable forest management produces healthier forests that serve as a “carbon sink” absorbing greenhouse gases and purifying drinking water for wildlife and municipal water systems. This year alone, forests sequestered 14 percent of all atmospheric carbon.   

Timber is among Montana’s most highly valued resources.  For over a century, this plentiful, renewable and natural resource has sustained jobs and communities.  In fact today, over 160 wood-manufacturing businesses in Montana employ roughly 6,700 people; provide labor income of $295 million dollars and product sales of roughly $900 million every year in the primary and secondary wood products manufacturing sectors. 

Traditionally, Montana’s wood products focused on producing dimensional lumber for building and wood fiber for the pulp and paper industry.  Today, Montana’s manufacturing consists of sawmills, plywood, fiberboard, and particleboard plants, pellet mills, biomaterial and sustainable building material companies, log and furniture manufacturers, planers and woodworks.

In addition to producing a wide variety of sustainably harvested wood products, Montana’s forest products industry provides the workforce for trail restoration, wildlife habitat enhancement, forest and riparian restoration, hazardous fuel reduction, fire suppression and many other activities.

Montana’s forest products industry is proud to promote healthy forests and healthy communities through the wise management of our forest lands. Forest Products Week is “a great time to celebrate all the things we use and enjoy that comes from trees!”

On behalf of the Montana Wood Products Association, I am Julia Altemus. Thanks for listening.