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St. Regis sawmill to close

| September 3, 2021 7:00 AM

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

The Coeur d'Alene, Idaho-based forest products company has operated the mill for four years. The mill 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 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."

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 toured the mill just 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 has notified the Montana Department of Labor and Industry and said it would help its laid-off employees through assistance in resume writing, interview coaching, and conducting outreach to prospective employers.