New sawmill to start processing Caldor Fire salvage logs from Sierra-at-Tahoe

Logs are arranged on a site behind Carson Valley Plaza in northern Douglas County.
Provided/Record Courier

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A new sawmill to be constructed near Carson City is expected to produce about 50 million feet of lumber per year and the first purchase was from salvage and cleanup efforts at Sierra-at-Tahoe, officials announced on Tuesday.

Tahoe Forest Products in a partnership with Washoe Development Corporation, an affiliate of Washoe Tribe of Nevada & California has leased 40 acres of Washoe-owned land near Carson City, behind Carson Valley Plaza, to build the first significant sawmill in the region in decades, said a news release.

“This project came about because there was no reasonable market for salvage logs and thinnings from the Tahoe Basin or from the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest,” said Jon Shinn, CEO of TFP. “A local sawmill is one of the critical missing links in beginning to address forest health and resilience, not to mention critical post-fire cleanup efforts from catastrophes like the Caldor Fire.”

Logs from Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort that were burned in the Caldor Fire have been arriving onsite all August, reported the Record Courier. The mill will cut mostly large fire salvage logs initially but plans to also add a small-log line to effectively process thinnings.

The mill will also present employment opportunities for Tribal members and the local community with about 40 people expected to be hired.

According to Wendy Loomis, executive director of WDC, they purposefully seek partners who support the Washoe Tribe’s mission and vision for preserving Mother Earth, supporting environmental sustainability and enhancing Washoe workforce development. 

“TFP recognizes the importance of protecting the environment while respecting the Tribe’s cultural and conservation areas in and around Clear Creek,” Loomis said. “This small parcel will enhance and sustain thousands of acres of sacred forest land previously inhabited by the Washoe people.”

TFP will use approximately 10 acres for buildings and processing facilities and 30 acres for log storage. The plant will include the sawmill building and rough lumber sorter, dry kilns, and a planer mill and sorter to finish lumber for shipping. In total, the buildings will cover 25,000 square feet and will not exceed a height of 35 feet.

Logs will be processed into a wide range of products, including dry-surfaced 2-inch construction lumber, timbers, fence posts and landscape products from the fir, and boards and “factory” lumber for windows from the pine. Additionally, bark will be sold for landscaping and other uses, chips and sawdust will be sold to agricultural end-users and to power plants, while planer shavings will go for animal bedding.

“The single biggest challenge to increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration work in Tahoe is the lack of a viable place to take the excess fuel in our forest,” said John Jones, Tahoe Fund board member and chair of its forest health committee. “We are ecstatic and relieved to have a new sawmill just 10 miles from the Tahoe Basin to help reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.”

“The Forest Service encourages expansion of sustainable value-added businesses and markets for byproducts of forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction projects,” said Erick Walker, forest supervisor for Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. “It’s great to have this facility coming online and adding to the suite of businesses that contribute to the restoration economy.”For more information, visit

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