Udall wants changes on old timber contracts

DENVER (AP) – Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is urging federal officials to rework old timber contracts to help keep Colorado’s sawmills open.

Udall sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the head of the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday about the issue.

Udall says the state’s three sawmills – in Montrose, Saguache and Delta – are struggling because of the downturn in the housing market and lower demand for wood products. He says contracts worked out with the federal government before the recession began don’t provide them enough money to cover the costs of cutting down trees from the forest.

If the mills close, Udall says the state wouldn’t have anywhere to process beetle-killed trees. They would instead have to be sent to a mill in Montana, 800 miles away.

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