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The wood products industry has a rich heritage in Montana. Our forests have sustained Montana families for decades. Pyramid Mountain Lumbers’ sawmill operation has provided employment for many in Seeley Lake, and wages paid have provided countless opportunities to mill and woods workers and has sent many a Montana child to college.

Montana’s timber industry remains an important economic engine in parts of Montana. The wood products industry works hand in hand with state and federal agencies and other stakeholders to keep our forests healthy and reduce wildfire risk. In that cooperative vein, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project is a decade-long, landscape-scale, made-in-Montana project that provides certainty for jobs in Seeley Lake and the surrounding areas by continuing to put logs on trucks.

Pyramid has been directly involved with the BCSP for the past 10 years, and continues to be a strong supporter of the entire project, including the proposed conservation and recreation designations. We worked with partners of the BCSP and the U.S. Forest Service to pursue development of the Southwest Crown of the Continent landscape-level proposal, which has already increased the pace and scale of stewardship and restoration efforts on national forest lands. While there is still work to be done to keep our mill viable, the BCSP is a strong start.

To date, the BCSP partner efforts which successfully advanced SWCC in 2010 have created or sustained 160 jobs for Montanans annually. Land management activities embedded in SWCC have resulted in 48.6 million board feet of timber sold. Healthy forests through restoration efforts not only benefit the timber industry, but also reduce wildfire risk and protect water quality in our pristine rivers, lakes and streams.

With the original timber provisions of the BCSP already under way, Montanans are looking to our Montana delegation to implement the conservation and recreation provisions of our locally crafted proposal. These include wilderness designations for deserving areas, and the establishment of a permanent snowmobile recreation area.

By designating our recommendations on wilderness, our congressional delegation will permanently protect vital wildlife habitat and watersheds. Special places such as Monture Creek will continue to be a popular destination for Montana families for generations to come. Further, by opening up the Otatsy Recreation Management Area to snowmobiles—the area is currently closed—Congress will create new opportunities for winter recreation.

These conservation and recreation designations are not only good for the land and the people who like to visit these places, they are also good for local communities. People coming to the Seeley Lake area to hike, camp, hunt, fish and snowmobile spend money in local communities, supporting good local jobs.

Folks with a wide variety of interests – such as foresters, conservationists, business owners, snowmobilers, outfitters and ranchers – came together to collaboratively manage and protect our most important asset: our public lands. The BCSP is a win for all interests and stakeholders, and we are proud to continue to be a strong supporter – 10 years after our initial meeting with former Congressman Denny Rehberg in Pyramid’s conference room. Now is the time for our Montana congressional delegation to show the critical leadership needed to get this project across the finish line. When our delegation works together, all of Montana wins.

Gordy Sanders is resource manager and Loren Rose is chief operating officer for Pyramid Mountain Lumber Co. in Seeley Lake. 

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