October 17 through the 24 marks the fourth annual Montana “Forest Products Week”. In 2011, the state legislature set aside a week, every October, to recognize the importance of Montana’s forest products industry, their contribution to the management of our forest lands, to Montana’s economy, and to the stability of our timber-dependent communities.
Montana’s appreciation week coincides with the National Forest Products Week, established by a joint resolution of congress, in 1960. The resolution proclaimed that “our country and its people have always found constant strength, individual peace and personal pride in the bounty of forest and timberland; 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.”
Montana’s “Forest Products Week” is a wonderful opportunity for the public 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.
This year, the celebration kicks off on Friday, October 17, with two events. First, the Montana Society of American Foresters (SAF) and the Ravalli County Habitat for Humanity have partnered on a three-day blitz build of a new home for a family in the Bitterroot Valley. In addition to labor and transportation, Montana’s wood products industry donated over $10,000 in building and finished materials for the home. Second, the U of M College of Forestry and Conservation is offering a free lecture on the current challenges and potential solutions facing the wood products industry.
Other events include a Montana Log Markets Webinar on October 20, a salute to National Bio-Energy Day on the 22, and school events and mill tours are scheduled across the state. The Kalispell and Missoula Chamber of Commerce are hosting Timber Tours to close out the celebration. Information on these events can be found on the Montana Wood Products Association and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation websites.
Forest Products Week not only highlights the importance of wood as a major component in building and energy design, but the use of wood also provides substantial environmental benefits, offers incentives for private landowners to maintain healthy forests and provides a critical source of employment in rural America. Utilizing wood harvested through sustainable forestry practices promotes a healthy environment and a strong economy.
Timber is among Montana’s most highly valued resources. For over a century, this plentiful and renewable resource has sustained jobs and communities. In fact today, over 160 wood-manufacturing businesses in Montana employ roughly 7,000 people; provides $296 million in labor income, $614 million in primary sales and $350 million in secondary sales.
Traditionally, Montana’s wood products industry focused on producing dimensional lumber for building and wood fiber for the pulp and paper industry. Today, Montana’s manufacturing consists of technologically modern sawmills, plywood, fiberboard, and particleboard plants, post and pole facilities, 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 a workforce for trail restoration, wildlife habitat enhancement, forest and riparian restoration, hazardous fuel reduction, fire suppression and many other worthy 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.