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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) sent a letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore excoriating the Biden administration for its forest management policies in the Black Hills National Forest that are reducing the amount of trees available to harvest forcing saw mills to close and timber workers to lose their jobs. The senators request the Biden administration to open more of the Black Hills National Forest for timber harvesting and toss a lifeline to the Wyoming and South Dakota saw mills and workers who have seen their livelihoods threatened by the radical policies coming out of Washington.

“Unfortunately, dwindling sawmill capacity near our nation’s national forest is not unique to the Black Hills. Since 2020, more than 20 mills near national forests have been forced to curtail production or close altogether. While the timber industry faces its own unique market pressures, the recent layoffs are a direct result of reductions to the U.S. Forest Service’s timber sale program,” wrote the senators.

Background:

  1. The Black Hills National Forest produced the first federal timber sale in 1899 and was one of the U.S. Forest Service’s highest timber producing forests in the country for more than a century.
  2. Further reductions to the Black Hills National Forest timber sale program will not only have dire economic consequences but also put the forest at increased risk of catastrophic wildfire and insect and disease outbreaks.
  3. Two mills in western South Dakota have closed in the past five years including Hill Materials in Spearfish and Rushmore Forest Products in Hill City.
    1. On April 11, 2024, Neiman Enterprises announced it would be laying off employees at its sawmill in Spearfish, South Dakota, resulting in more than 50 employees losing their jobs.
    2. This announcement came roughly three years after Neiman Enterprises was forced to fully shutter a sawmill in Hill City, South Dakota, where roughly 120 people lost their jobs when that mill closed.
  4. On May 10, 2024, Senator Lummis joined Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) in sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies requesting the U.S. Forest Service allow a minimum of 75% of the annual allowable sale quantity in the Black Hills National Forest.

Click here to read the full letter.

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