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Sawmill meeting gauges local interest, availability of timber

MEADVILLE – A new sawmill may be coming to Franklin County.

     An unidentified mill has expressed interest in coming to the area, according to consultant Dan Seale, who has been hired by the company to conduct research.

     Seale held a meeting Thursday evening in Meadville to get input from the community and identify people to supply or be loggers for the mill. He said company officials have already selected a site within the county where they would like to build if they were to come.

     Citing a confidentiality agreement, Seale was unable to provide investment, job, location and other details about the project.

     Seale said getting the mill to come to Franklin County would be significant.

     “I think they would make a very substantial investment here,” said Seale.

     Seale said company leaders asked him to perform his own research in addition to the research they already had to make sure the timber was available and the logging infrastructure is in place. He said he was convinced that both are.

     The mill would be working with bioenergy. It would log timber under the federal government’s definition of pre-commercial thinning, which is different than the definition of normal pre-commercial thinning.

     The government says pre-commercial thinning is taking pulpwood and smaller trees and includes small, diseased and other trees in order to allow larger, healthy trees to grow. It can be performed on plantations and stands.

     Under government guidelines, Seale pointed out a key point that a property’s timber can only be pre-commercially thinned once. Other methods of thinning could still be pursued.