Our federal forests suffer from the chicken and egg conundrum. The Forest Service has reduced its harvest volumes over the last 30 years, which drastically changed the landscape of the forest industry. Now we have large voids where mills used to dot the map. We currently face a forest health where the Forest Service needs to create large, landscape-level projects to make a difference. How do we do this without mills? The answer is that we can’t. New, right-sized milling infrastructure is required to pull this together.
It’s time to build a right-sized industry that adds value to the by-products of forest restoration. We need to quantify which trees and how many need to be removed over time with new forest restoration programs. Then use that data to align with the mills. These mills are the physical and financial tools needed to get our forests back to health. Many mills already exist, but more are needed.