Gov. Noem and Gov. Gordon discuss future of lumber industry in Spearfish
SPEARFISH, S.D. — Governors Kristi Noem and Mark Gordon headed to Spearfish Forest Products to get a better understanding of the urgency of the lumber situation in the Black Hills. They say increased demand for materials, combined with Forest Service restrictions, has placed immense pressure on the lumber industry.
“This mill here is in jeopardy if we don’t start getting the Forest Service to release more timber under contract,” Noem says. “Which means that it can be milled and it can get into the production supply chain to make sure that we protect these jobs, but not just that, it’s about maintaining healthy forests.”
Forest fires have devastated nearby states in recent months, so Noem and Gordon also discussed forming connections with other governors like California’s Gavin Newsom and Colorado’s Jared Polis.
Their hope is that the Forest Service may be more open to compromise, and an agreement could be reached that would not only protect the lumber industry, but the forests as well.
“If we can get a bipartisan group to go to the White House, we have a better shot at them helping us make sure we maintain these timber contracts and protect these jobs for these families here,” Noem adds.
Noem also mentioned that, as infrastructure blooms in the area, the forest will continue to change, so the way it’s managed will need to change too.
“We’ve changed the way that these forests grow, which means that they have to be treated differently now based on the fact that we impact them every day with our day-to-day lives,” says Noem.
Her immediate goal is to set up a way to collect some data on forests and lumber to better understand the ever-changing landscape.
“If we can make sure we’re backing up what we know to be true in real research and surveys and studies and then presenting that, then maybe they will change their projections for the timber harvest in the future,” Noem explains.
Noem and Gordon aim to continue to gather both data and help of other officials as they formulate a plan to support the lumber industry on a local and national level.