Stimson Lumber Wants $16M for Bonner Mill Site

By Beacon Staff

BONNER – Stimson Lumber Co. will not resume operations at its sawmill here and has listed the property for sale at $16 million, a company official said Thursday.

Jeff Webber, Stimson vice president, said that if the 170-acre property doesn’t sell in the next six weeks, the Portland, Ore.-based lumber products company will liquidate its assets by selling the equipment during a two-day auction set for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

“I’m hopeful someone will buy it as a sawmill, but most likely it will be bought for another use,” Webber said. “Sure I’m sad. I worked there a long time and have an emotional attachment to the place.”

The sale of the Bonner sawmill doesn’t include about 100,000 acres of Montana timberland owned by Stimson.

Webber said the company wasn’t “abandoning” the wood-products industry, but the sawmill in Bonner wasn’t in a location with a reliable supply of timber. Stimson recently closed the plant after 122 years of logging operations, citing a deteriorating housing market and falling timber prices.

Webber also stressed that Thursday’s meeting with economic and community stakeholders was arranged before Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s news conference Tuesday. The governor said state officials want Stimson to clean up at least $5 million in contaminated sediment on the property.

Webber declined to comment about any restoration of the Blackfoot River channel, but said Stimson would complete its own environmental analysis of the property by the end of September.

“We’re committed to cleaning up the environmental issues there,” he said.