Sawmills in Colorado and Wyoming are amid a resurgence and putting beetle-killed trees to use, likely reducing fire risks in the process. But the mills remain hampered by a lack of raw materials while management on national forests limits logging of big trees and focuses on forest health.
My November 2014 story, “Rocky Mountain sawmills rebound,” for High Country News, looks at how mills have revived and whether the industry’s needs can align with those of the forests.
For this article, I spent a day touring Saratoga Forest Management (ah, the smell of sawdust in the morning), a reopened mill in Saratoga, Wyoming. The small town nestled in the Medicine Bow Mountains is surrounded by thousands of acres of pine-beetle-stricken trees, so the stakes — in terms of mill jobs, recreation dollars, and forest health and fire dangers — are front and center.