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New saw mill helps clear forests of beetle-killed trees

Foresters say it’s a good thing that Saratoga’s saw mill is back at work.

Saratoga Forest Management opened this January, 10 years after its predecessor, Saratoga Saw Mill, went out of business.

Wyoming State Forestry Division’s Josh Van Vlack says half of the area’s dense forests have been killed by bark beetles, but foresters can’t afford to remove the dead trees. Van Vlack says that the saw mill is paying for the rights to remove the timber, which is turns into two-by-fours.

Clint Georg co-owns Saratoga Forest Management. He says strategic logging improves forest health, the way wildfires used to.

“When we harvest, it opens up the forest floor,” Georg said. “The seeds now that are dropped during the process, the pinecones open up, the seeds start to regenerate, and you have a regeneration of the forest.”

George says there’s enough beetle kill in the region to keep the saw mill busy for decades.

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