Posted: Jun 8, 2012 4:21 PM by Breanna Roy - KPAX News
Updated: Jun 8, 2012 8:30 PM
MISSOULA- The future of the Tricon Timber sawmill in St. Regis is hinging on its contract with the U.S. Forest Service since the company doesn't have the money to complete the helicopter logging outlined in the contract.
Both Tricon Timber and the U.S. Forest Service admit they've discussed a contract adjustment since last fall, but with the contract set to expire in less than 60 days, Tricon wants something in writing.
Forest Service Region 1 Media Coordinator Phil Sammon assures that the Forest Service is working out the details to make sure the business survives. He said the Forest Service may extend Tr icon's contract to help the company ride out market issues or it could re-determine the original contract rates.
But Sammon says the particulars of the decision are determined at a national level to make sure the deal is fair across the timber industry.
"What we're waiting on right now is for some final details to be worked out and the authority to be granted to us from the Washington office to extend this proposal to Tricon," Sammon said.
He said the Forest Service wants to see Mineral County and other communities keep their economic bases.
"It's in our best interest to work with these companies and these contractors to make sure that this whole relationship can keep going and keep us in the business of improving and restoring the natural resources," Sammon said.
He said if the talks are ongoing when the contract expires in August, the Forest Service would likely consider a short-term extension with Tricon.
But Tricon Timber wants something that says that on paper. Tricon Timber owner Ken Verley said he's heard promises since August, but all he has in his hands is an extension denial from the Forest Service.
Late Friday afternoon, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) received just that. In response to a letter he sent the Forest Service on Thursday, regional forester Faye Krueger sent a written promise:
"I want to assure you that I will remain personally involved in the resolution on this issue," Krueger wrote.
The letter vows that the formal agreement is not in place 30 days prior to the contract termination, the Forest Service would conditionally extend Tricon Timber's contract.