Stimson Lumber sells Bonner, Montana, mill property to Bonner Property Development of Missoula; site already being used to collect, chip logs for shipment to Boise

BONNER, Montana , December 18, 2011 () – A former lumber mill site in western Montana is operating again with a new owner.

Bonner Property Development LLC on Thursday signed papers taking over the property from Stimson Lumber Co.

Officials tell the Missoulian that about 30 trucks a day are arriving at the mill and that about 8,000 tons of logs have built up.

"We haven't hauled logs here since it went down three or four years ago," said log truck driver Ray Hutson. "It's a shot in the arm. More places to go, more work."

Missoula developers Mike Boehme and Steve Nelson head Bonner Property Development. They said Boise Inc. is contracting with area logging companies to bring in the logs. Boise Inc. also has an agreement with Willis Enterprises to run a chipping operation on the property.

Plans are for Montana Rail Link cars to take the chips to a Boise Inc. paper mill in Wallula, Wash.

"It's just inspiring," said Boehme. "A lot of that is timber that would just fall and die. Now it's getting recycled."

Stimson Lumber ran a mill at the site until 2008.

"We were approached (to buy the Stimson site) and have been doing due diligence for 12 months," Boehme said.

Besides the wood chipping at the old mill site, Boehme and Nelson want to bring in other industrial businesses. The industrial property element of the deal is "new to us," Boehme said.

They also said they want multiple tenants and have a mixed-use property.

Willis Enterprises is the second tenant on the property, the first being Northwest Paint. That company leased 90,000 square feet in a building. Boehme said about 700,000 square feet of building space remains available.

As for the wood chipping business, the logs Hutson is hauling are coming from a fuel reduction project on a ranch near Ovando. The logs are beetle-killed or trees that are being thinned.

"We believe there's a sustainable supply of pulp wood here," said Rich Lane, fiber resources manager of Boise Inc.

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