The Forest Products Industry Relationshhip with the Flathead Watershed, Holly McKenzie

Forest Products Industry

The forest products industry contributes significantly to the economy of the Flathead Watershed. With 13 varieties of commercial tree species harvested from public and private lands in the watershed, local mills can produce a diverse array of products. Some products manufactured in the Flathead include logs for log homes, dimensional and specialty lumber, plywood, MDF (medium density fiberboard), and siding, trim, flooring, molding, and framing used in the building industry. A number of other products are made from the materials remaining from major wood products manufacturing, including paper, cardboard, and toothpaste.

Proactive forest management not only contributes to the economy, it also can help to maintain healthy forest ecosystems.  Planting, thinning, and harvesting of forest vegetation promotes the health and safety of Flathead Watershed communities by reducing the risk of wildfires. Proper forest management also contributes to protecting the cultural integrity of the Flathead Watershed.  The B.C. Ministry of Forests, the U.S. Forest Service, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, private landowners, and citizens all play a significant role in contributing to the health of our forests. Cooperation among all parties is critical for maintaining productive forests and watershed health. 

     Figure 6.13: Well managed forest. Source: Holly McKenzie


Growth in the watershed continues to create pressure for conversion of private forest lands into large real-estate development projects. In addition to losing forested land, this expansion of human development into forests and wildlands—known as the wildland-urban interface (WUI)—exposes both humans and wildlife to increased risks to health and safety. The further into these areas we develop, the more we facilitate contact with wildfires and native species such as bears, mountain lions, and wolves. Forest management practices that reduce these risks are essential in areas where public and private forest lands border private properties.  Like farming, active forest management is based on growing a sustainable product. It requires expert foresters’ commitments and procedures and landowner cooperation to be successful.


Figure 6.14: Loading wood products in the Flathead.
Source: Holly McKenzie
Figure 6.15: Log home by Montana Log Homes.
Source: Holly McKenzie

Canada’s Council of Forest Industries
Montana Logging Association
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)
Montana State University Extension Forestry
Flathead National Forest
Montana Wood Products Association
Montana DNRC Forest Management
USDA Forest Service Northern Region

The lands of the Flathead Watershed are owned and managed by diverse stakeholders, all responsible for protecting the beauty, health, and traditional way of life that make the watershed a unique and desirable place. We depend on watershed resources for our cultural foundation, economic stability, bountiful goods, and recreational opportunities. It is important to know, understand, and care for the complex and interwoven systems that make up this extraordinary place. With sound information, thoughtful planning, responsible stewardship, and a shared commitment, we can maintain this quality of life for future generations in the Flathead Watershed.


For more information, send email to info@flatheadwatershed.org or info@flatheadcore.org.
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