Bonner wood chip plant boosting local economy
BONNER – Wood chips were flying and sawdust filled the air as Willis Enterprises thanked their supporters on Friday afternoon.
The wood chip plant in Bonner employees 10 people, but creates over 100 jobs due to supply labor. One family told us they are very grateful the plant opened up and gave them the opportunity to live in Montana.
“We moved here about two years ago
from Lake Havasu City, Arizona and my husband was a landscaper there and
construction started going down hill. So he was kinda in betweenjobs
and out of work but he’s been super busy in the last two years so it’s
definitely been a blessing for us,” Rhannon Abbott said of Willis
Mill supporters and their families got to take a tour of the mill and see the day-to-day operations. The facility produces about 225,000 tons of wood chips a year which is then sold to a paper mill in Washington.
Montana State Forestry Specialist Peter Kolb says the trees removed
from the forests to make the chips help control pine beatles and forest
“We’ve been in a continually drying
period so these forests become stressed for moisture, they die, they
become susceptible to mountain pine beetle, and ultimately this ends up
as excessive fuel in the forest which can then lead to fires that are
extremely severe and very expensive to fight,” he explained.
The chip mill opened up in 2012 and is about to start its third year of operation.