Montana Department of Natural Resources is expanding the number of permits for the harvest of timber for commercial timber harvesting, with an average of 2,000 permits per month now in place.
The permits were created in response to a state and federal ban on commercial timber harvests in Montana, which ended in June.
The agency issued 656 permits in 2016, a decline of nearly half compared to the previous year, when the number was 1,829.
“Montana’s forests are a treasure trove of valuable natural resources, and a large part of that resource is harvested by humans, including hunters,” said DNR Deputy Director Mike Tumlin in a statement.
“Our goal is to ensure that timber harvest is sustainable and provides an opportunity for Montana’s farmers and ranchers to prosper.”
DNR also announced the establishment of an office in Helena, which will be responsible for issuing permits.
It will be staffed by a certified forestry engineer and will be able to provide support to Montana’s timber industry, including the licensing of harvesters and the development of technical guidance.
The Helena office will be open from July 1 to November 30 and will report to DNR Director Michael Pyle.
The Montana Forestry Commission will have the authority to issue the permits.
The department has also made an additional $2.5 million available for permits through the Department of Agriculture to supplement the existing federal harvest funding.
DNR and Montana State Parks have already issued more than 200 permits since the ban ended, which have helped bolster the state’s forests and boost jobs.