07/06/2011 02:03 pm ET Updated Sep 05, 2011

Sen. Mark Udall Wants To Help 3 Colorado Sawmills Stay Afloat During Economic Downturn

U.S. Senator Mark Udall sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging immediate action to help three of Colorado’s largest sawmills which are struggling financially.

Udall is requesting that the USFS and USDA work with the sawmills to modify some contract terms so the mills can remain open. Intermountain Resources, Mountain Valley Lumber and Delta Timber are the three mills in jeopardy. Intermountain Resources, the largest of the three mills, went into receivership in June 2010.

The mills employ hundreds of Coloradans and play a part in the fight against the bark beetle and wildfires by providing the infrastructure to help clear millions of acres of fallen or beetle-killed trees and processing them into wood products.

In his letter, Udall wrote:

Modifying these contracts and thus helping sustain these three mills will have a direct public benefit. The USFS, other land managers, communities, and industry across the state and region are working to reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfires and restore healthy forests by clearing beetle-kill hazard trees and reducing hazardous fuels adjacent to communities. Without these processing locations in Colorado, the distance to the next closest mill with capacity to process any meaningful volumes of timber is nearly 800 miles away in Montana.

The economic downturn, the burst of the housing market and decreased financial resources for forest management have led to decreased reliance on the Colorado mills.