Central Sierra
University of California
Central Sierra

Trinity River Lumber Re-emerges from the Ashes

Last week I visited Trinity River Lumber (TRL), a sawmill, in Weaverville, California.  The sawmill was almost totally destroyed by a fire in September 2009 and completed rebuilding in January this year.  The mill is the largest private employer in Trinity County with approximately 115 full time jobs.  The community was relieved that TRL’s owner chose to rebuild the mill after the fire.  The new mill is impressive in its versatility to saw a range of products and in its use of technology to maximize production.  Both the pony (small log) and main headrig saws make use of 3D scanners to optimize lumber yield from each log.  They are currently increasing production to approximately 120,000,000 board feet of lumber per year.  The main products are green (undried) douglas fir and white fir dimension lumber.

Headrig log deck – the yellow bar is part of the 3D log scanning system that outputs to the screen on the right.

TRL is classed as a SBA (Small Business Administration) sawmill by the Forest Service.  This means that they are eligible to bid on Forest Service SBA set-aside sales (http://www.sba.gov/content/natural-resources-assistance-program).  There are only four SBA sawmills left in California: TRL, Shasta Green, Sierra Forest Products and Sound Stud (currently curtailed).  TRL do not own timberland and source logs, from public and private lands, within a 200 mile radius.  Some logs sourced from the Sierra Nevada are delivered on flat bed trucks with log stakes so that the same truck can then take finished lumber to market.

Flat bed log truck arriving at Trinity River Lumber with the new sawmill building in the background,

As part of the UC Woody Biomass Utilization program (http://ucanr.org/sites/WoodyBiomass) I have worked with TRL on a number of projects including deploying new technology at the mill that increases the efficiency of sawing small logs.  Most recently I worked with the mill to help them secure a 2011 Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization (WBU) Grant.  The grant of $250,000 was one of three awarded to California applicants (http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=5184) and will help pay towards the engineering required for a biomass fired boiler to run dry kilns with the potential to add electrical generation in the future.  The project will allow TRL to produce kiln-dried lumber, increase the efficient use of sawmill residues and create a new market for woody biomass in the county.

Since 2008 the UC Woody Biomass Utilization program has helped capture almost $5m dollars for California businesses, non-profits and government though the WBU grant program.  This represents a significant investment in helping the forest products industry in California retool for smaller logs and woody biomass from ecological restoration projects.

We have helped many businesses like TRL, non –profits and others with understanding technology, markets and sourcing grants – perhaps you could be next?


Further information:

Woody Biomass Utilization Website (http://ucanr.org/WoodyBiomass)

Woody Biomass Utilization Blog (http://ucanr.org/blogs/WoodyBiomass/index.cfm)

Woody Biomass on Twitter (http://twitter.com/WoodyBiomass)

Posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 10:28 AM
  • Posted By: Jaime Adler
  • Written by: Gareth J Mayhead
Tags: California (7), fire (4), lumber (1), sawmill (1), woody biomass (1)

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