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Community

Bringing the St. Regis Mill into the Family

By | Community, News

Idaho Forest Group acquired the St. Regis (MT) mill in December 2017. The mill was old and outdated, but a hidden gem. With commitment, hard work, and heart from managers and employees around the company, St. Regis has made impressive strides improving organization, efficiency, and safety. IFG has a strong and unwavering commitment to safety at our mills, physically making sure operations are safe and training team members in protocols to prevent and deal with accidents, should they happen. Our first project was ensuring the St. Regis mill was safe for IFG employees. The mill has also been transformed to improve workflow and efficiency. For example, 6 million board feet of log decks were mixed-species when IFG came in. Those logs have now been sorted by species. A sprinkler system that uses water from a recirculation pond is being constructed to catch and reuse irrigation water. The team identified outdated and inefficient machinery, redesigned log flow, and purchased new equipment to improve output. Next, we’ll be changing the mill from a 9’ multiple mill to an 8’ mill to meet growing demand from the home center market. We are grateful to the community of St. Regis for a warm welcome and hope to continue to make progress on projects that will improve quality of life around the mill, like those we’ve already completed to reduce emissions, mitigate dust, and start a new apprenticeship program for residents.

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Log Truck Drivers Needed

By | Community, News

Manufacturing lumber involves a lot more than just milling wood. It involves sourcing logs, transporting the logs, manufacturing products, finding suitable markets, and transporting the products to the markets. All of these tasks require people to do the work. A labor shortage has become a major concern for many industries in the U.S. and truck driver positions are one of the most common jobs to go unfilled. According to the American Trucking Association the United States is projected to be short 175,000 truck drivers by 2026.  Log truck driving companies are already feeling the effects of this shortage in Idaho and Montana. Driving a log truck takes experience and special skills beyond those common to CDL licensed drivers. There are few formal training options anywhere in the country, and none located nearby. Schools have typically been underused because they require a significant financial investment and a log truck certification is not generally required to work in the industry. It’s likely, that given this lack of training availability, there are people who are interested in learning about driving a log truck but don’t feel confident in making a commitment (purchase of equipment) without some understanding of what the job entails. In 2018 over 143,000 log trucks delivered logs to Idaho Forest Group’s (IFG) mills.  Timely delivery to mill after the harvest of these logs is crucial to our operations.  Logs that sit at forest sites too long lose value, are attractants for pests, hold up payments to landowners, and are potential fire hazards. As fire threat…

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Prichard Creek Restoration

By | Community, News

Idaho Forest Group  always aims to have a positive impact in the communities in which we operate from sponsoring youth sports teams, to volunteering at educational events, to donating to local charities; we invest in our homes.  One of these investments is just starting to take shape, will live on in perpetuity for everyone. In 2014, Idaho Forest Group (IFG) purchased nearly 2,000 acres of the Prichard Creek stream and bordering forestland from a single private landowner. Prichard Creek flows down from the Montana border passing the historic town of Murray and draining into the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. Its entire length once served as cold water refuge from the summer heat, for bull trout and cutthroat trout. Around the turn of the 20th century, the creek was mined for gold using an in-stream floating dredge that removed thousands of tons of sediment from the creek bed and leaving large piles of rocks bordering it. These operations have changed the shape of the creek leaving decreased riparian vegetation, eroding banks, sediment loading into the water, decreased sinuosity, and a three-mile stretch that flows subsurface during the summer months. Prichard’s waters are very cold and have relatively high water quality. Almost all of the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River has been impacted by mining and development.  Prichard Creek stands out as “low hanging fruit” in the basin for potential restoration because the water quality is decent, the waters are cold, and it is mostly surrounded by public lands. IFG saw an…

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Shared Stewardship in Idaho

By | Community, News

Wildfire isn’t the only threat facing Idaho’s forests. According to the National Insect and Disease Risk Map, Idaho leads the country in the number of treed acres at risk of high rates of mortality from insect and disease by 2027. For every 1 cubic foot of wood harvested, 3 cubic feet die in our forests. High mortality rates lead to reduced carbon sequestration, increased wildfire risk and pose a threat to Idaho’s forest products industry and the jobs it supports in our rural communities. With 6.1 million acres at risk in Idaho, there’s a lot of work to do. In July, Governor Little announced two priority areas, encompassing over 4 million acres. Idaho Forest Group operates within these areas and is committed to supporting individual projects by sharing technology and data, adjusting capacity to meet demand, and lending expertise wherever needed. In December 2018, Idaho signed the nation’s first Shared Stewardship agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, pledging to double the number of acres treated to reduce wildfire risk and improve the health of our ailing forests. The concept of the Shared Stewardship policy is to allow states to define priorities and manage projects across land ownerships, utilizing collaborative decision-making that involves land managers and land users throughout the process. This agreement shaped a collaboration between Idaho Department of Lands and USFS Regions 1 and 4 to reduce fuels and wildfire threats around communities; create and sustain jobs; and improve the health and resiliency of the forest. The Idaho-USFS Shared Stewardship Agreement promises to double the annual acres…

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Idaho Forest Group Acquires Merritt Brothers Lumber Mill

By | Community, News

(Athol, Idaho, April 10, 2018) – Idaho Forest Group (IFG), a lumber producer in the Inland Northwest, has acquired the Merritt Brothers Finger Joint mill located in Athol, Idaho. Erol Deren, IFG VP of Sales and Marketing, commented “This acquisition gives us the opportunity to learn the value-added finger-joint manufacturing process. It will enable further utilization of the fiber resource and compliments our other facilities making the most of the logs that we procure for our mills.  We will carefully evaluate the capital needs of this site and invest accordingly.” Buck and Wayne Merritt started Merritt Brothers Lumber Company in 1968 when they purchased an old sawmill in Priest River, Idaho.  In 1990 they bought the Athol site and eventually sold off their Priest River location. Herb Janhsen, VP of Merritt Brothers, congratulated IFG stating “We wish IFG a prosperous future. We are happy to see the mill continue to move forward and offer employment opportunities to our valued team members.  We are thankful for the hard work our employees have put in over the years.”  

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Your vote matters most in the primary. To switch affiliation, do it by March 9.

By | Community, News

As published in the Idaho Statesman – read full article BY DAVID HIGH March 01, 2018 11:45 AM Updated March 04, 2018 05:15 PM Here’s the bad news for Idaho voters: If you miss voting in the primary election, you pretty much miss the election train. That’s because nearly all statewide officeholders in Idaho are selected in the primary election. Put another way, the primary election is when votes really matter. More specifically, recent history tells us that Republican primary results generally presage general election results for statewide offices. For the past 12 years, 100 percent of Idaho statewide political officeholders were decided in the Republican primary. If you go back 20 years, two Democrats were elected to statewide office: Marilyn Howard, superintendent of public instruction, and J.D. Williams, state controller. Four years later, only one Democrat — Howard — was elected. Since then, it’s been all Republicans. Unless you think Idaho has become less Republican over the last two decades — and with apologies to Democrats – it’s probable that all or nearly all of our statewide officeholders will be selected at the May 15 primary. Yet voter primary participation is inexplicably low. Statewide officeholders are elected every four years, the last time in 2014. The Secretary of State’s Office reports that 37.59 percent of Idaho’s voting-age population voted in the 2014 general election, but only 16.63 percent voted in the 2014 primary. As usual, all statewide office candidates selected in the Republican primary went on to win in the November general election. Think…

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