27 Nov 2007, 7:41pm
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State of timber-DNRC’s harvesting production on rise

Editor’s note: Today, the Missoulian presents the second in a four-part series on the past, present and future of timber cutting in Montana.

By JOHN CRAMER of the Missoulian

The state of Montana doesn’t own much of the forest within its borders compared with the big boys on the block - the U.S. Forest Service, Plum Creek Timber Co. and other private owners.

But while the bigger players have had trouble producing lumber in recent years - constrained by everything from economic downturns and lawsuits to foreign imports and debates about squishy science - state officials have been quietly tending their little plots of earth.

Since it went into the public-land logging business in 1889, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has seen its share of ups and downs in timber production.

But in the past decade, the state of Montana has steadily increased its harvest and sales volumes of timber coming off the state’s school trust lands.

That’s meant a relatively steady flow of money for public schools, where most of the state timber revenue goes.

That revenue dropped significantly in the past year because of a national sub-prime mortgage crisis, a resultant drop in homebuilding and a decreased demand for lumber, but agency officials expect timber profits to bounce back when the economy stabilizes… [more]



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