11.02.2015 BLANCA, CO — Colorado’s largest contiguous ranch, the Trinchera Blanca Ranch in the San Luis Valley, is developing plans for a sustainable timbering operation to improve forest health on the Ranch and address issues that forests across the region, state and entire West are facing.

The Ranch currently removes approximately 2.5 million board feet of timber per year, but needs to increase its efforts to sustainably manage and address the health of the forest and keep up with growth. The addition of a sawmill will provide the necessary capacity to further develop a sustainable timbering operation on the ranch and beyond.

“Large portions of Colorado’s forests are hurting due to prolonged drought, bug infestations and poor historic forest management practices – the same issues we are facing on the Ranch,” said Ty Ryland, Trinchera Blanca Ranch Manager. “The forest-health issues on the Ranch, along with those of the region, are pushing us to act and the best solution is to sustainably manage our forests and build this sawmill to handle the volume.”

The proposed facility would be located near the town of Blanca in Costilla County and employ 40 people on a single shift and up to 70 if a second shift is added. In recent years, sawmill capacity in the San Luis Valley and across the region has dwindled and is no longer able to address the Ranch’s needs as it works to improve its forests. The Ranch’s proposed facility would be able to process approximately 20 million board feet of timber per year, half of which could come from the Ranch. The rest could come from other private and public lands in the region. The end product will go to market as construction-grade lumber. All timber harvested on the Ranch will be responsibly managed and meet the requirements of the
Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

The threat of large high intensity fire across the west is due in large part to a century of fire suppression, rather than what occurred in the past –frequent, low-severity burns. This “new” practice created vast, dense, young forests with close canopies contributing to the catastrophic fires now seen in the west. All of this underscores the need for active forest management and practices such as removing dead or dying timber. The proposed sawmill would allow the Ranch to properly address the issue by sustainably utilizing materials.

“We have several hurdles yet to clear before the sawmill will be built, but we are hopeful it can get done as it would help us save our forest and bring the added benefit of positive economic benefits and jobs to the Valley,” added Ryland.

Costilla County has granted the necessary permits for the location of the sawmill and to conduct timber removal operations on the Ranch. The sawmill will start testing the operation by the fourth quarter of 2016, with the goal of being at single shift capacity by early 2017.

The Ranch, located in Costilla County in the San Luis Valley, encompasses almost 172,000-acres – including 90,000 forested acres – much of which has been impacted by years of drought, spruce bud worm, spruce beetle and bark beetle infestations. The health of the forest is driving the development of the sawmill.