Tahoe Forest Products – Sawmill Frequently Asked Questions
Why is a sawmill being constructed on this site?
Beginning in the early 1900’s, total fire suppression became the US Forest Service’s primary forestry management practice. The unintended consequence is that today the Sierra Nevada has too many trees competing for too little soil and water in a warming environment. This combination has led to overgrown, malnourished, diseased and dry forests that, when sparked, create catastrophic wildfires. TFP is part of the solution to reduce fire fuels, including selective tree reductions across the Tahoe basin and broader Sierra Nevada. We are not a logging enterprise, but we provide loggers a necessary site to which they can deliver harvested and salvaged timber. Our operation supports necessary fire cleanup efforts. As neighbors may have seen, our first logs are arriving from Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort, where critical cleanup work is occurring to allow the mountain to safely reopen for recreation in the 2022/2023 season.
Recently, the US Forest Service commented on the arrival of TFP in our region: “The Forest Service encourages expansion of sustainable value-added businesses and markets for byproducts of forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction projects. It’s great to have this facility coming online and adding to the suite of businesses that contribute to the restoration economy.”
What is the history of this site?
Prior to the arrival of European settlers, this land and Clear Creek were part of the Washoe Tribe’s homeland. In the 1860’s, at the time of the Comstock Lode discovery, this site was acquired by the Carson and Tahoe Lumber & Fluming Company, the original logging and lumbermill operation founded by DL Bliss. Bliss’ company shipped lumber by train from Glenbrook to Spooner Summit, where lumber was transferred to flumes adjacent to Clear Creek and floated down to the bottom of the creek, where our site sits today. Pictures from the 1870’s near and on this parcel depict hundreds of acres of stacked lumber waiting to be shipped to Virginia City. In 1908, the Federal Government purchased the broader 229-acre parcel on behalf of the Washoe Tribe, and the Tribe has owned the land since. The Tribe approved this parcel for commercial development in 2008, and TFP is proud to return it to the historical use in a unique partnership with the Tribe.
Where exactly is the site?
TFP’s lease area is approximately represented in the PDF linked below.
View Lease Area
What will the site and buildings look like?
TFP has signed a long-term lease with the Washoe Tribe for 37 acres of land. Approximately 25-30 acres will be used to store stacked logs (“log decks”), while about 10 acres will be developed for mill operations. Most of the southern and western borders of the site will be log storage areas, while the center and northern, and eastern sections of the site will be used for mill operations.
To the extent possible, the building facilities will blend into the local landscape, using colors similar to those of the adjacent retail buildings along Vista Grande Boulevard.
The log decks will be approximately 25 feet tall, and we expect the tallest building structures to be about 40 feet tall.
TFP is actively researching additional options to enhance the appearance of our site, including grading techniques and landscaping with trees and native vegetation along the southern and western borders.
How noisy will the operation be?
Standing outside a sawmill, observers usually can’t hear anything happening inside the facility. Audible noises outside will mostly include backup alarms on vehicles (the beep-beep sound), and logs being placed on a metal conveyer. TFP will use several industry best practices to control noise impacts to the neighboring community, including situating log decks so that they function as sound and visual barriers.
Will the operation have a smell?
Generally no, although an air-dry process used on certain lumber will occasionally cause a smell like that of a Christmas tree lot.
What is the site’s construction timeline?
Site preparation including grading began in July 2022. Construction is expected to last through the end of 2022, with mill operations expected to begin in the first quarter of 2023.
What will the sawmill’s hours be?
Once operational, we expect the mill’s work shift is likely to run from 7:00AM to 3:30PM on weekdays. The log yard will operate from 6:00AM to 5:00PM.
What permits are required?
The majority of regulations governing TFP’s site and facility are Washoe Tribal laws, including environmental and cultural regulations. Potential air and water impacts are subject to Federal law and those permits, and industry standard applications are being processed.
How will the local environment be affected?
We will be a committed steward of our site. TFP commissioned a detailed environmental study from a Reno-based firm, identifying several environmentally sensitive areas on the broader Clear Creek parcel. TFP’s entire site avoids these areas as well as additional Tribal environmentally and culturally sensitive areas. Clear Creek is also an important resource for the Tribe and local community and we will protect, and hope to improve, the drainage flowing into this stream.
TFP will dry certain lumber products in kilns, which will create a modest level of non-toxic emissions. These emissions will be scrubbed and will be compliant with Federal EPA requirements as well as local and state particulate limits.
How will fire risk be mitigated?
Senior management at TFP has extensive experience in fire risk mitigation at sawmill facilities. TFP, like most sawmills, will “sprinkle” its log decks (think of a very large pivot sprinkler) and have significant water resources on site, including a pond dedicated to recovering and recirculating water throughout the log decks. This pond will be connected to pumps (with redundant power) to quickly respond to any fire. The mill will also employ typical sawmill best practices, including dust capture.
What water source will the mill use?
The Tribe, as part of its site preparation, is drilling a well near the northern border of the leased area, which is largely downslope of the residential neighborhoods to the site’s south and west.
Who are TFP’s principals?
TFP’s senior management team includes a multi-decade career sawmill designer/constructor/operator, a former General Manager at one of the largest sawmills in the Sierra, and established local investors with significant experience supporting new enterprises. TFP’s senior team has roots in the region and cares greatly about improving local forest health. The Company’s investors include board members of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, The Tahoe Fund, and the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation.
What is the Washoe Tribe’s involvement in the mill?
The Washoe Tribe is TFP’s landlord, and will participate in the economics of the business. TFP will also actively encourage Tribal and local neighborhood employment at the site.
How will TFP seek neighborhood feedback regarding the site?
We will be a good neighbor, and welcome feedback from the community as our construction and operations progress. We are currently working to schedule a community meeting for our neighbors to share their questions and hear from our management team in person.
This page will be continually updated as we receive additional questions and comments from our community. Please also check TFP’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tahoeforestproducts for additional news and information.