On Wednesday, National Bioenergy Day, part of National Forest Products Week, is the time the U.S. Forest Service is emphasizing the importance of wood energy to Montana and to the entire country.
Regional Wood and Biomass Utilization Coordinator for Regions One and Four of the U.S. Forest Service said the week and the special day were set aside to honor all those involved in the wood and timber industries.
“Today (Wednesday) there was an open house at Sustainable Lumber Company on Stockyard Road, where they opened up their showroom to people,” Kies said. ” The University of Montana campus has urban tree tags all around the campus that show the value and benefit of urban trees in our environment. This Friday, the Missoula Chamber of Commerce is doing a timber tour from the forest to the building, and they’ll be going up Pattee Canyon to see an active forest management project up there. Then, they’ll head over to the new Missoula College building on East Broadway where they’ve integrated some Montana wood that is actually under construction there.”
Kies said there are hundreds of people employed in the wood products industries in Western Montana.
“In terms of the economy, there are a lot of jobs involved in the forest products industry,” she said. “Everything from the foresters who are putting together forest management projects and all the resource specialists in between, to the folks who are doing the harvesting to the truckers who are hauling to the mills that are actually processing the timber and then trucking it back to folks”
Kies also included the building and construction industry as part of the mix in wood products.
“The building and construction sector is utilizing that wood, as well,” she said. “All told, statewide, I know there’s a $320 million impact in wages last year that west to the Montana Forest Products Industry, so that’s a lot of people and families and communities that rely on that income, and also help us with the wood products that we need.”
The Forest service touted that fact that Libby and Seeley Lake have changed out hundreds of inefficient older wood stoves over the past several years and replaced them with cleaner burning, high-efficiency wood and pellet stoves.
In addition, public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone.