Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Forest Supervisor 'saddened' and 'concerned' by Neiman layoffs

Timber hauler weighs in a Spearfish Forest Products—a mill owned by Neiman Timber.
Lee Strubinger
Timber hauler weighs in a Spearfish Forest Products—a mill owned by Neiman Timber.

The head of the Black Hills National Forest says the agency is saddened and concerned to hear about layoffs at a sawmill in the northern Black Hills.

Last week, Neiman Enterprises announced it was laying off 50 employees, a quarter its staff. The company says the layoffs are a direct result of reduced timber sales.

Forest Supervisor Shawn Cochran said the agency recognizes the importance of the timber industry in helping manage the Black Hills.

“We have taken extraordinary steps to support the forest industry for the past decade," Cochran said. "The reality of it is, is there’s simply less available saw timber trees that we can harvest and meet other standards and guides and policies on the forest.”

Cochran said the forest service is seeing mill closures across the west. He said the closures are not just a matter of supply, but that labor and transportation costs have outpaced the market.

Cochran said the forest service has spent millions to aid the timber industry, including a program to transport trees from California for processing at mills in the area.

Last summer, the forest service performed a comprehensive scan of the entire Black Hills.

Officials hope the data will lead to a better understanding of the structural condition of the forest following several large wildfires, mountain pine beetle epidemic and aggressive timber harvesting in response.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Related Content