This is a story about a San Luis Valley business (Mountain Valley Lumber) that invested in the purchase of trees from the San Juan National Forest. The trees, processed in the Valley, were sold as beams to local Pagosa Springs business owners who produce high-value, craft homes form local materials.
Two years ago, the San Juan National Forest squared up to the persistent threat posed by dead spruce on Wolf Creek Pass; the trees were older and died early in the spruce beetle outbreak (2009-2011). The fallen old trees are large, very tall (often 100’+ in height) and are located a short distance from the highway. While accessible, the trees were of little use to sawmills that produce boards or dimensional lumber (i.e. studs) because they were cracked from 7-9 years of weathering. But, for home builders, those dry, large-diameter spruce are perfect for logs and beams.
Identifying this unique market opportunity, Mountain Valley Lumber of Saguache, CO purchased two salvage sales from the Forest Service, Wolfy Salvage in 2016 and Cutthroat Salvage in 2018, with the intent of using much of the material for log and timber frame beams. In turn, two Pagosa Springs-based timber framers, Andre Redstone and Dave Schanzenbaker, source much of the beams for their local timber framing business from Mountain Valley Lumber. It is likely that much of the wood harvested from Wolf Creek Pass will make its way into timber framed homes in the Pagosa Springs area after being harvested, processed and sawn by Mountain Valley Lumber in Saguache, Colorado.
This unique relationships highlights the socio-economic interconnectedness of the forests, businesses, craftspeople and communities within the 2-3-2 landscape. With continued coordination between the San Juan National Forest, Mountain Valley Lumber and other partners, we can continue to manage forests for ecological and economic benefit.
Story submitted by Matt Tuten on behalf of the San Juan National Forest and San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership.