Lawsuits Hindering Montana Timber Industry, Economists Says
What is the biggest factor hindering Western Montana’s timber industry: a lack of timber supply or a lack of public demand for wood products? Director of Timber Industry Research at the Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research Todd Morgan says the problem at this point in time is supply.
"The mills in Montana could be producing and selling more product in the current market if they had better availability of timber," Morgan said. "Part of what limits timber availability in Montana is the high proportion of federal lands that we have in the state, particularly forest service lands. Those lands are definitely impacted by appeals and litigation by environmental groups."
Morgan says the time spent fighting environmental lawsuits is hindering the Forest Service’s mission.
"That effort that they spend doing EIS's and doing the environmental analysis, and then the effort that they spend again defending themselves when they get litigated, takes away from their ability to deliver the other parts of their mission: which is clean water, timber, and other multiple uses," Morgan said.
This week, the Montana Wood Products Association has been lobbying Montana’s congressional delegation, urging them to make it more difficult for lawsuits to halt timber sales on public land.