The lack of available timber is the single biggest issue facing the wood products industry in Montana, according to a group of foresters and sawmill managers who spoke with U.S. Rep. Steve Daines during a roundtable discussion on Monday.

Daines toured the Roseburg Forest Products Co. particleboard production plant in Missoula before meeting with members of the Montana Wood Products Association for a frank discussion on the challenges facing the industry.

The stop was part of a weeklong tour focusing on reducing the impact of what Daines, R-Mont., called “overreaching regulations” on Montana’s economy. Daines said the tour is meant to highlight the importance of the wood products industry to Missoula and Montana.

“We need to continue to fight to keep this business growing in Montana,” he said. “We need to turn around the wood products industry in Montana and keep these jobs in Montana. We used to have 30 sawmills in Montana and now we’re down to 11.”

Roseburg fiber manager Dan Daly gave Daines a tour of the plant, including the massive hydraulic press that mashes sawdust and woodchips into particleboard and laminate that is used for everything from countertops to stair tread. The company employs 112 people and ships roughly 150 million square feet of finished particleboard every year.

From The Missoulian: