Reps. Boebert and Westerman Visit Montrose Forest Products and Attend Lumber Roundtable
Rep. Lauren Boebert and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources Bruce Westerman visited Montrose Forest Products to meet with Colorado stakeholders to discuss the importance of actively managing our forests and the timber industry.
Rep. Boebert stated: “Forest management is a pillar of rural communities. I’m grateful Ranking Member Westerman drove through the night to come out and see the mill in Montrose firsthand and visit with the local community. Extremist attacks have reduced the number of sawmills in the United States from 1,311 in 1995 to just over 200 today. I’m proud of our timber industry, and since 2012, Montrose Forest Products has invested over $42 million into the mill and our local economy. Their important work helps manage our forests responsibly, and 40% of the lumber they currently process is beetle-killed. My Active Forest Management, Wildfire Prevention and Community Protection Act supports mills and local counties by increasing the amount of board feet harvested per year from public lands. My bill harnesses the power of private industry to improve forest health, protect the environment, reinvest in rural communities, and prevent wildfires."
Montrose Forest Products is a strong economic driver for rural Colorado, and since 2012, it has invested over $42 million into the mill and rural economies. 96% of the wood that Montrose Forest Products processes comes from public lands. The mill cuts 350,000 board feet per day which is enough to fill 12 truckloads. Rep. Boebert’s Active Forest Management, Wildfire Prevention and Community Protection Act will help ensure a reliable supply of timber while also greatly improving forest health and reducing carbon emissions.
Reps. Boebert and Westerman heard from foresters, local elected officials, and other community representatives about different challenges in our forests that impact supply. Even though the company is doing well, they are still facing difficulties hiring enough qualified workers due to things like expanded government unemployment bonuses. In June, Colorado Reps. Boebert, Buck, and Lamborn sent a letter to Governor Polis calling on him to follow the lead of neighboring states and decline expanded federal unemployment bonuses in order to incentivize Coloradans to get back to work and fill the record number of job openings.
Montrose Forest Products has done a great job helping reduce the devastation caused by the western bark beetle epidemic. Beetle-killed trees are dangerous for firefighters, since they are highly combustible kindling for catastrophic wildfires. In order to mitigate the risk of catastrophic fires, beetle-killed trees need to be removed and processed at mills like Montrose Forest Products before they rot and twist. In past years, 80-100% of the lumber Montrose Forest Products processed was beetle-killed. Now, 40% of the lumber that goes through Montrose Forest Products is beetle-killed.
Rep. Boebert’s Active Forest Management, Wildfire Prevention and Community Protection Act will use increased revenue from timber receipts to establish the fully-paid-for Western Bark Beetle Epidemic Fund to remove beetle-killed trees in order to reduce the risk of wildfires. In addition to protecting rural communities from deadly wildfires, this provision will strengthen the economy, improve the environment, and create long-term solutions for forest health.
Rep. Boebert is also a co-sponsor of Ranking Member Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act, which utilizes state-of-the-art science to triage the top 10 percent of high-risk firesheds, speeds up essential forest management projects by ending frivolous ligation, gives the Forest Service the necessary tools to restore watersheds, creates new and innovative authorities that increase tribal management of forestlands, and expands existing authorities to address insect and disease infestations and increase resiliency to wildfires.