FRENCHTOWN – Gov. Brian Schweitzer says he has written a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture as part of an effort to transfer some federal timber to state management.
Speaking Monday after a closed-door meeting with managers at Smurfit-Stone Container Corp.’s linerboard mill in Frenchtown, the governor said state management of just 15,000 acres of federal land would likely yield enough timber to keep small mills across the state open.
He said management of just 1 percent of dead and dying timber on federal land could ensure a supply for the mills. Schweitzer added that in an ideal situation, the land would represent the urban-wildland interface where federal officials are already “treating” forests to address wildfire danger.
Smurfit-Stone plans to close its Frenchtown plant for 10 days later this month because of the economic downturn and the shrinking demand for cardboard products. The mill employs about 330 hourly workers and 70 managers.
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