California will ship logs to Wyoming rail siding

During remarks to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2021, US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore outlined a plan to ship logs from as far away as California to sawmills owned by Hulett, Wyoming's Neiman Enterprises. 

One of the mills is in Spearditch, South Dakota that Jim Neiman threatened to close after increases in sales of timber were deprioritized in the Black Hills National Forest’s revised plan. Republican donor Neiman waited until Donald Trump was forced from the White House then shuttered his sawmill in Hill City, South Dakota and blamed the Forest Service. The operation in Hulett employs a third of that community’s population.

According to former timber cruiser, Dave Mertz there haven’t been any litigators to sue the Forest Service allowing Republicans to infiltrate management of the BHNF. The Biden administration has been slow to restore the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rules Earth hating Republicans like South Dakota and Wyoming's congressional delegation want to eliminate. Senators John Thune and John Barrasso introduced the Save Jim Neiman's Ass Act Black Hills Forest Protection and Jobs Preservation Act of 2022 but it died in committee. 

Nevertheless, Jim Neiman will enjoy the fruits of socialism as Republicans found a way to funnel taxpayer dollars to the Black Hills timber mogul under a partnership between the US Forest Service and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

In 2020 Neiman bought Interfor Corporation’s specialty sawmill in the Klamath County town of Gilchrist, Oregon near where the logs will be loaded. Neiman owns the Klamath Northern Railway which connects to the Union Pacific that has a siding in Upton, Wyoming. To minimize the movement of insects and diseases the 33 and 16.5 foot fire salvage ponderosa pine logs will be peeled and shipped to Upton then trucked to Neiman’s mill. Upton was part of my Sysco territory before I left in 1992.
The process of moving timber by railcar in previous years was viewed as an outdated method, as it was considered unprofitable for companies seeking to create forest products. However, considering the immense ecological value (i.e., wildfire risk reduction, carbon optimization, watershed health, wildlife habitat, etc.), the process has the potential to set the precedent for getting fuels out of the forest and transformed into carbon-storing forest products. [NWTF, USDA Begin Restoration, Timber Transit as part of Master Stewardship Agreement]
One needs to look no further than the BHNF for how politics has completely altered a landscape but there are plenty other public lands examples that illustrate the red state, blue state divide. The BHNF is in Region 2, based in Colorado but managers are struggling to hire personnel because a Republican governor is driving young people from South Dakota. 

Neiman purchased Montrose Forest Products in Colorado in 2012 so in 2018 after the Trump Organization gutted NEPA Neiman shipped twelve loads of timber from the San Juan National Forest in Colorado to mills in South Dakota. Neiman wants to log 20 million board feet of ponderosa pine per year in Colorado for the next 20 years. Knot-free old growth ponderosa pine is coveted by door and window manufacturers like Pella, Marvin and Andersen.
“We’re honored to be a partner with the USFS and NWTF on this pilot project,” said Jim Neiman, President of Neiman. “Collectively we’re helping to create resilient forests and stable economies around rural and underserved communities across the nation.” [press release, Black Hills National Forest]
It’s entirely likely Neiman refuses to pay competitive wages but chooses to blame others for worker shortages instead. There are far, far better life choices than working in a sawmill for ten years let alone living in states like Wyoming and South Dakota where workers are commodities. Neiman bought mills in blue states Colorado and Oregon that expanded Medicaid, so go figure.

In a related story, Colorado could plug abandoned oil and gas wells with biochar.

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