When Jim Neiman of Neiman Enterprises purchased Montrose’s Intermountain Resources LLC out of receivership in September, he said he hoped to fill 85 to 90 jobs. Neiman has experienced a few hiccups over the past two months, but his sawmill — renamed Montrose Forest Products LLC — is operating right on schedule, with 89 full-time employees working five days a week, according to manager and resource forester Norm Birtcher.
The problem is, Birtcher can only hope to keep all those people employed through the winter.
He said the mill currently has approximately a three-month supply of timber under contract, but beyond that, Neiman, Birtcher and the employees are waiting for the U.S. Forest Service to make new contracts available.
Birtcher said his company has a great working relationship with the Forest Service, but the tough economy is delaying mandatory assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act before the government can open up tracts of timber for cutting.
“There is plenty of wood,” Britcher said. “The annual growth exceeds what is harvested. It is the Forest Service timber budget that’s limiting.”