Hopes and Fears for Montana Timber Jobs With Weyerhaeuser Purchase
On Sunday, November 8, Weyerhaeuser announced intentions to purchase Plumb Creek Timber, a company well known in Montana where it owns around 700,000 acres of timber land. Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research Forest Industry Research Director Todd Morgan said the announcement is a big deal.
"It'll be a very big deal for timber land ownership around the U.S. with Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek together, somewhere around 13.2 million acres nationally that will be held by one company," said Morgan. "They will be the biggest single timber land owner in the country. Plum Creek already has timberland in nineteen different states."
Many in the timber industry are concerned that a merger may lead to a closure of two Plumb Creek Timber mills in Flathead County, resulting in the layoff of more than 700 workers. Morgan said the concerns are legitimate, but said there may be upsides for the Montana timber industry as well.
"Whenever companies merge they always try to find ways to stay efficient and profitable and they may say they only need one saw mill or maybe they need one plywood plant in Montana as opposed to two, we just don't know that yet," said Morgan. "The potential upside is that they put more money into their operation in Montana, both in the land and the mill.
According to Morgan, the end of the Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada may have provoked the mega-merger, which could take place in the first or second quarter of next year.