The attached picture of the Rat Creek Fire of 2010 in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest shows what fire does when it encounters a properly managed forest. Photo courtesy of Derek Weidensee.

In a previous post I listed some ideas for finding, or creating, a high wage job in Montana.  Let’s talk about Natural Resources.

Natural Resources

Historically natural resource industries like timber, coal, mining, and energy have provided the best opportunity for high wage jobs in Montana. Nationally this sector provides the highest wages according to the US Dept. of Labor, but the sector is being strangled by federal rules and regulations. There’s a reason we call Montana the Treasure State!  We need to make sure that our natural resource industries thrive again.

I received some great feedback on this industry from Ed Regan, resource manager for RY Timber, Inc. in Townsend.  RY offers both skilled and entry level full-time positions at their mills producing lumber.  Additionally they employ foresters, accountants, electricians, and clerical workers.  Along with a good wage, all of their employees receive medical and retirement benefits.

At full capacity, RY alone employs 220 people, not including the 250-300 people who receive work indirectly through their logging operations.  Unfortunately, the last two years they have had to curtail production in the mills and are now running at around 75% of their capacity.  A shortage of both logs and new timber sales have necessitated these cut backs.

I asked Ed what needs to happen so his company, and industry, can thrive again.

“The two most pressing issues for our continued success are a reliable timber supply coming off Forest Service lands and a new Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada,” he related.

Ed presented some other thoughts for helping to solve the problems facing the timber industry.  These include earlier collaboration with the Forest Service during the forest planning process, instead of at the project level, and a way to cut back on frivolous lawsuits, whose delays cause uncertainty and hardship on companies dependent on federal timber sales.  “Without a speedy return to a more reliable FS timber program, Montana will lose the remaining mills and its best tool for restoring forest health.”

We know the potential natural resources have for high-paying jobs in Montana.  Let’s work to keep these industries running at full capacity, for the benefit of our families, state, and future.

Do you have other ideas on how to bring high wage jobs to Montana? Please let me know your thoughts.

Stay tuned for my next post, where we discuss another way you can increase your high wage job prospects in Montana.