TOWNSEND, Mont. - Montana-based RY Timber has closed one of its sawmills indefinitely, citing an inadequate supply of logs. The 70 employees who work there will either lose their jobs or be transferred to the company's Livingston sawmill.
 
RY says the mill will remain intact, and that it will resume production once it has enough logs. Until then, logs from existing sales will go to the Livingston sawmill. Layoffs will begin in April.
 
“R Y Timber recognizes that these changes will have a significant impact on our loyal employees, their families and the community,” a press release stated. “The company will work with appropriate government agencies to help make the transition for all affected employees as smooth as possible, including separation pay and possible transfers to the Livingston mill.”
 
The company attributes lack of supply due to ongoing litigation of Forest Service log sales.
 
“For the past several years, the uncertainty and delays caused by litigation of Forest Service timber sales has required R Y Timber’s mills to operate at one-half their capacity,” the press release says. “The company remains hopeful that future court rulings will reverse the anti-forest management decisions of the past and allow sustainable timber harvest into the future. A sufficient and stable timber supply is necessary before the Townsend mill can be restarted.”
 
Montana Wood Products Association Executive Director Julia Altemus told the Helena Independent Record that some successfully bidded federal timber sales have been stalled by litigation.
 
Altimus estimated for the Record that litigation accouns for 80 percent of the mill's supply issue. She identified the Alliance for the Wild Rockies as the main litigant. The Alliance's director said he believes litigation is unfairly labeled as a scapegoat.
 
RY Timber primarily manufacturers two-by-four studs at the mill. The company currently employs around 200.

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