Our Story

Revitalizing Communities and Forests

The problems of small communities are complex, but high among them is declining employment opportunities.  This is visible in many communities in the California Sierras. About 270 local sawmills have closed in California since 1970, with the attendant jobs lost.

The destruction caused by fires to communities and wildlife alerted the world to the danger of neglecting our forests.  Most of the groups that sued to stop logging and lumber production to protect wildlife have realized that the magnitude of the current fires is a much bigger threat to wildlife than well managed logging and lumber production.  Climate change awareness has led to popular support for limiting carbon emissions and encouraging natural processes that generate oxygen.  There is growing support for maintaining and protecting healthy, growing forests that are fire resistant and ‘breathe’ in carbon dioxide and ‘breathe’ out oxygen. 

Fortunately, the culture that led to this situation is changing.  

Hat Creek Lumber and West Biofuels, under construction in Burney, CA will be the first lumber mill and bio-energy duo to be completed as a public, private partnership.  Hat Creek Lumber is committed to working with other communities on similar projects once they are fully in production.

Reducing fire risk and emissions are key objectives for both the federal and state governments.  In California the US Forest Service, CalFire and non-profit community organizations are encouraging and investing in community scale sawmills in Sierra Communities where mills can be in close proximity to the forests that supply them.  CA Senate bill 771 was passed to promote construction of bio-energy plants that will generate power from organic waste from forests and sawmills.  The lumber produced by sawmills will sequester half of the material removed from the forests in lumber returning Sierra Forests to net Oxygen producers. 

Hat Creek Lumber is currently accepting logs and using a portable system to produce lumber as well as scraps and chips to power the bio-energy plant. The target to complete site improvements, building and full mill construction is October 2024.