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St. Regis sawmill to close in November

by Daily Inter Lake
| August 30, 2021 4:50 PM

ST. REGIS — Idaho Forest Group plans to suspend operations operations indefinitely at its sawmill in St. Regis by late November, the company said Monday.

The Idaho-based forest-products company has operated the mill for four years. It employs 99 people and contracts with various loggers and haulers, some of whom may continue delivering logs to other Idaho Forest Group mills in northern Idaho.

“We did not arrive at this decision easily or lightly and we recognize the very real and human consequences for our employees and the community,” Mike Henley, regional manager of the St. Regis facility, said in a prepared statement. “We sincerely thank each of our employees for their dedication and their stewardship of the forests in western Montana, and we commit to helping them through this transition.”

Based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the company acquired the St. Regis mill in 2017. In January 2020, it scaled back operations and staff while investing in a facility upgrade. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte had just toured the sawmill last week.

Despite favorable market conditions last year, the facility has consistently failed to meet production goals. Declining lumber prices was a key factor in the decision to close in November, Henley said.

The company’s leadership has notified the Montana Department of Labor and will continue to work to ensure employees have access to resources that can support and assist them, which will include assistance in resume writing, interview coaching, and conducting outreach to prospective employers.