GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Three lumber mills in Colorado could soon be cleared. The U.S. Forest service says it might not have the authority to re-contract with sawmills in Montrose, Delta and Saguache. Those mills depend on government dollars to keep running with hundreds of employees.
Democratic Colorado Senator Mark Udall is pressing the Forest Service to renegotiate the salvage timber contracts, to save the sawmills and protect forests from intense fires.
"It's the summer season. It's the time when we can reduce fuel loads, get into our forests. It's also the time of year when fires are more apt to occur. For all of those reasons, I'm pushing, urging and cajoling the forest service to go ahead and make that decision," says Senator Udall.
Udall says if the mills close, Colorado won't have anywhere to unload downed trees, which could be a dangerous fire hazard. The mills have been struggling since the downturn of the housing market, causing less of a need for wood.