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Western Montana timber sale a collaborative effort

Posted at 3:41 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 17:41:22-04

The Bureau of Land Management has recently created the Gnome Knob Timber Sale, an innovative way to strike a balance between small log utilization, hazard reduction in the wildland urban interface -- and harvesting more traditional timber for saw logs.

Off of Montana Highway 200 -- about 18 miles east of Interstate 90, in the Lower Blackfoot Corridor -- a partnership recently developed between the BLM and a Bonner business.

BLM is taking the stems of trees cut down during fuel reduction treatments on their 378 acres of land and putting them to use through a timber sale.

“We developed the timber sale to send that material to Willis Enterprises in Bonner to make paper chips out of those," explained BLM Forester Kyle Johnson.

He told MTN News that Willis Log Buyer Rich Lane was recreating in the area, when he noticed the slash piles that had been collected. Lane contacted the Bureau of Land Management to discuss his idea of how he could use the stems.

Johnson said that the BLM was all in for the project.

“A typical fuels reduction project like this represents a cost. We’ll pay somewhere between $200 to $700 per acre. By utilizing that material, it’s actually a revenue generating gain to the agency," Johnson said.

He explained that this newly developed partnership with Willis Enterprises has reshaped his idea of what makes a viable timber sale, including the volume of trees and types of trees used in a sale.

“This small diameter utilization, we’re trying to expand that, especially in this Blackfoot area, where we have such good access to the chip market," Johnson said.

The end result of this collaboration is the creation of a money generating timber sale that benefits two local organizations.