Utah Companies Receive Wood Innovation Funding from Forest Service

SALT LAKE – The USDA Forest Service has awarded $475,000 to two Utah-based organizations through the Wood Innovation Funding Opportunity. Last Chance Lumber Sawmill will use the grant funding to retool its existing setup, and the University of Utah will use the funding for research on the safety of mass timber buildings.

“It’s exciting to see increased federal investment in Utah that stimulates economic capacity and new market opportunities for forestry work, wood utilization, and forest products,” said Bergen Eskildsen, Forest Products and Businesses Program Coordinator for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. 

Last Chance Lumber Sawmill received a grant for $300,000 to begin utilizing dead and unmerchantable logs to build pallets.  Last Chance Lumber gets 300-400 loads of these low-quality logs annually and processes them into shavings for animal bedding and soil amendments.  It’s estimated half of the logs in these shipments could be made into pallet boards.  The sawmill will utilize the small, crooked, and defective logs to produce a usable pallet. These pallets will then be used by shipping companies in Sanpete County.

Utilizing these logs and turning them into pallets instead of allowing them to be turned into wood shavings or wasted increases the value of the logs.  Several companies in Sanpete County and the surrounding area utilize an estimated 1,000 pallets per day, ranging from mining minerals to clay manufacturers and a gypsum plant.  

Last Chance joins two other organizations from Utah that have had the opportunity to obtain a wood products innovation grant through the USDA Forest Service.  

The University of Utah received $175,000 to fund research into the structural integrity of mass timber buildings and how they are affected by seismic activity.

Earlier this year, Paul Young Construction received funding through the Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance Grant to improve wood processing facilities throughout the state. 

“The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands (FFSL) is committed to engaging entrepreneurs and businesses with federal, state, and local resources under Utah’s Shared Stewardship Agreement between the State and the U.S. Forest Service,” stated Eskildsen. “FFSL’s Forest Products & Businesses program will continue to promote funding opportunities for Utah’s forest products sector in partnership with the USDA Forest Service Wood Innovations Program.”

Each company is working to find innovative and new ways to use wood products. To learn more about wood products funding, contact Bergen Eskildsen (bergeneskildsen@utah.gov), the Forest Products and Businesses Coordinator for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.