Owens and Hurst Closes - Last lumber mill in Eureka, Montana

Communities for a Great Northwest
Press Release by Bruce Vincent, Executive Director



Libby, Montana - Northwest Montana’s forests, economy and social fabric were
dealt another harmful and unnecessary blow with the announcement that a family
owned sawmill, Owens and Hurst of Eureka, Montana, is closing its doors, and
Bruce Vincent of Communities of Great Northwest (CGNW) said he’s dismayed and
disgusted by the news.

“What we’re losing is not just jobs and a business, but a family owned,
family oriented business that represents the soul of rural Montana,”
said Vincent, who noted that Owens and Hurst was a founding supporter of CGNW
and several area educational efforts.

“Our hearts go out to the family that had to make this decision and the
hundreds of families impacted by this decision. We all feel the painfully common
grief visited upon the community of Eureka. All of Montana has lost a champion
of the hope for rural community sustainability."

"In the discussion of the management of our forests in Montana, they
have been the first to the table of debate to work on compromise, to
work on collaboration, to lead constructive community debate over the
future of the public trust that surrounds their operation,” he said.

“They’ve been the first in line to support education programs to help
teach the public about modern, environmentally sound forestry.”

The mill closure announcement today underscores the impact of Judge
Donald Molloy’s U.S. District Court Tuesday [July 1, 2003] decision relating
to inventory processes associated with old growth habitat on the Kootenai
National Forest.

The Judge ruled that the forest must cease its timber sale program --
including the salvage of dead, dying, and fire-killed trees.

Vincent said, “The decision was not based upon the loss of old
growth or the lack of old growth. The decision was based upon
supposedly insufficient documentation of the existence of sufficient old
growth habitat even though the court now has in its possession
documentation that confirms sufficient existence of old growth."

"I’d like the Judge to try and explain that to the children of the families
of mill workers and loggers impacted by his callous disregard."

Vincent pointed out that the Judge could have allowed the sales to go forward
while the process violation was remedied especially since there is absolutely
no environmental benefit to enjoining the salvage

Vincent noted that this is exactly the type of case that South Dakota’s
Senator Tom Daschle was afraid of in the Black Hills one year ago when
Daschle introduced and passed legislation to disallow judicial review of
salvage work in those forests.

Vincent also noted the irony of our Senators being specifically, pointedly
and repeatedly asked to follow the lead of then-Majority Leader Daschle in
helping our Montana communities.

“I find it particularly disgusting that Senator Baucus voted to aid the
people of South Dakota -- and [yet he] continues to ignore the
plight of the forests and families of Montana by not yet signing on in
support of the President’s Healthy Forest Initiative,” he said.

Vincent concluded that, “The environmental conflict industry that gets
paychecks for suing the federal government over every decision
regarding resource management, the courts that participate with them,
and the politicians -- that have not answered the call to correct this
situation -- need to accept responsibility for their participation in the
taking of our villages and for aggravating an existing forest health


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