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Montana Celebrates Forest Products Week

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MISSOULA -

Montana's forest products industry is taking center stage this week, as events around the state honor the industry's contributions to the Treasure State.

Numbers from the Montana DNRC show almost 7,000 Montana workers made a living in Montana's forest industry last year, with total earnings at almost $300 million.

Montana forest products week was established in 2011 to honor forest products, and the contribution they make, not only to the economy, but also to land management.

"They provide us with a tool, so we can use economics to go in and manage forests, and manage problems, like wildfires, and the pine beetle epidemic," said state forester with the DNRC, Bill Harrington.

Harrington said, because of mill closures since the 2008 economic downturn, managing Montana forests is becoming more difficult.

"This is an industry that has much reduced over what it's been historically, and that's primarily because of a lack of supply," Harrington said.

Todd Morgan with Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research, predicts a better year for the industry and its workers.

"We've seen log prices in Montana increasing, production at mills increasing, and economic earnings and wages are also going up right now," Morgan said.

He said prices from primary wood and paper products last year was up 25% from 2011. That upward trend continued this year.

"There's definitely improvement. A lot of that is tied to increase in housing market more homes are being built," Morgan said.

He added Montana currently supplies about 2% of lumber used in the U.S.

Events like mill and forest tours are being held across the state, showcasing the current state of the forest industry. For a list of events, take a look at the Montana Forest Products Week Agenda.

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