A quandary that threatened the existence of one of the few large sawmill operations left in Montana moved toward resolution last week.
A spokeswoman said Sen. Jon Tester had just received written assurance from the U.S. Forest Service that Tricon Timber’s Aug. 12 deadline to complete an expensive helicopter logging project near Thompson Falls will be extended if a permanent agreement isn’t hammered out soon.
“That’s the best news I’ve heard in quite awhile,” said a relieved Ken Verley, who owns the St. Regis mill.
The letter from Faye Krueger, new head of the Forest Service’s Region 1 headquarters in Missoula, came in response to Tester’s letter dated Thursday that urged prompt action to formalize a verbal agreement reached last month and to relieve the anxiety of Tricon and its employees.
“As you can imagine, they are rightly concerned that the agreement they reached with your agency in May is not yet formalized on paper,” Tester wrote.