MISSOULA, Mont. – The local wood products industry will be getting a boost as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service recently announced they are investing $5 million into eight project proposals from lumber-based companies around Montana. The funding will increase the capacity of the wood processing facilities and expand the market for the industry. 

Some of the projects are getting as much as $1 million that will go towards refurbishing the sawmill’s scanning technology, developing more production buildings, and more.

“There’s all kinds of investments that we make from upgrading of equipment to installing new equipment and then investment in wood energy as well,” said Jen Hensiek, U.S. Forest Service Deputy Director for State, Private, and Tribal Forestry in the Northern region. 

This grant is coming after two wood product companies in western Montana recently closed in March, with Pyramid Mountain Lumber being the biggest employer in the town of Seelye.

“Those manufacturers, they are the backbone in some cases of those small communities and the ability for them to either retrofit or install new equipment is really important to help them sustain jobs long term,” said Hensiek. 

Supporting the wood products industry is also important to sustaining Montana’s forest ecosystems. The sawmills help make the surrounding environment more wildfire resilient as they clear out dead trees and overgrown vegetation.

“By being able to have a market to take these materials, we can get them out of the national forest, and there are no longer that hazardous fuel out there out on the ground,” Hensiek added. 

According to the USDA, the investments are part of a broader $73.9 million in nationwide investments to support the wood products economy and healthy forests and are made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and annual appropriations. 

The USDA expects the projects to be operational in the next 1 to 2 months. To learn more about the investments, please go to the USDA Forest Service website. 



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