On Special Assignment

Feb 22, 2013 9:10 AM by Robin O'Day - KPAX News

Darby man brings 'energy log' to Montana

DARBY - The wood industry is finding a new grain of existence, and a man from the Bitterroot Valley is helping to lead the way.

"Right now we have a sellable product and we're ready to start marketing it," Ryan Connor said.

His energy log was in the research and development phase back in November, but now it has a name, and is being sold throughout western Montana, which seems to be a first.

"Well they are certainly leading the way in Montana because they are the only one that I am aware of that's making energy logs in the state," Forest Business Network CEO Craig Rawlings observed.

Connor found a niche market with an abundant supply.

"We've got red, dead trees everywhere, and he just happens to be in an area where it's going to lend itself to have the supply for quite some time until this beetle epidemic is over.

Smart Wood takes a problem, like beetle kill and turns it into a Montana made commodity. It's cooked at such a high temperature all the organisms are dead, so the consumer isn't bringing home any unwanted guests.

"It will meet any state's prohibitions against importing fire wood that's not kilned right. It will meet all those standards," Rawlings told us.

The compact log is an easy accessory for campers, but Connor and Rawlings say it could help fires burn cleaner, to help cut back on all those smoke inversions.

"It's a great opportunity for Missoula county to look at a product like this to burn along with wood to burn it up," Connor said.

He added this could be the beginning of much more to come. "We have no shortage of waste from the forest to make these logs, so I don't see that being an issue for quite a while."

A box of logs costs around $12 to $15, and Connor says he is working on a cooking log with apple wood or mesquite.

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