In response to the story about the closing of the Weyerhauser mills in Columbia Falls, some folks will be quick to blame the federal government for the chronic log supply shortage. However, it could well be that the mill capacity exceeds the available supply of timber. If so, revising national forest management to increase the supply of timber will only prolong the agony.
For several decades, logging on forest lands in western Montana occurred at a rate that was not sustainable. Historically, a significant percentage of the timber that was processed at the mills in western Montana came from the industrial forest lands. Most of the standing crop of merchantable trees on those lands has already gone to the mill. A significant portion of those lands is no longer in timber production. Moreover, one of the industrial forest owners has converted from a forest products company to a real estate investment trust.
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