Pyramid Mountain Lumber Inc.

As a wholesale manufacturer of lumber products, Pyramid Mountain Lumber builds long-term relationships with landowners. Unlike large timber corporations that own their land, two-thirds of the logs processed at Pyramid Mountain Lumber are purchased from landowners. Because Pyramid does not harvest trees from its own land according to its own internal policies, the company helps landowners with their timber management and provides free professional forestry advice so landowners can define their long-term objectives for their forests.

Pyramid contracts with accredited logging professionals in good standing with the Montana Logging Association to selectively harvest non-industrial private forest lands. These loggers must demonstrate their commitment to education and sustainability. This source provides approximately half the company’s annual usage.

A meeting for contract loggers and log sellers is conducted annually by Pyramid where sustainability, log quality and industry issues are considered. The Montana Logging Association also provides instruction at the meetings in safety and information concerning the association’s educational programs about sustainable forestry.

“We successfully partner with private landowners, state, federal and tribal governments to create long-term management of our forests for present and future generations,” the company says. “We take seriously our commitment to healthy forest management, and as a result, Pyramid Mountain Lumber is recognized and respected throughout the country as ‘The Stewardship Company.’ We take our professional responsibilities and ethics seriously. We do what we say we’ll do and we do it every day. Our foresters are well-versed and experienced in all aspects of forest management and all modern harvesting methods that are light-on-the-land.”

The company’s commitment to light-on-the-land harvesting methods includes use of grapple skidders, which reduce soil disturbance by raising one end of the logs off the ground. Also employed are cut-to-length harvesters, which fall trees precisely and protect the rest of the trees in the stand. Log forwarders reportedly create less ground pressure than a horse.

Stewardship Award

Last November, Pyramid Mountain Lumber won an award for excellence in stewardship from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Missoula field office. It was the first such award given by the Missoula field office to recognize stewardship contributions of a partner organization. The award mentioned the hard work and outstanding dedication to conservation and stewardship that the company showed supporting BLM’s Ghost Towns Stewardship project in the Garnet Mountains.

The project was to protect the historical and cultural resources of the Garnet and Coloma ghost towns from wildfires. It involved removing more than 22,000 tons of built-up hazardous fuels on 304 acres and took seven years to complete.

“From the very beginning of the working relationship, Pyramid Mountain Lumber was fully committed to making the project successful – both economically and from a resource protection standpoint,” Linda Cardenas, BLM’s Missoula field office assistant field manager, said in a statement. “Pyramid and BLM built a partnership based on trust, cooperation and mutual respect, and together, they successfully completed this important project.”

Pyramid Mountain Lumber was responsible for selective timber harvest, biomass utilization, footbridge design and construction, and trail work on the project, which began in 2008 and was completed in September 2010. The Missoula field office was awarded the BLM’s National Fire Management Award for 2010 for the project.

In 2009, Pyramid Mountain Lumber won an award for the Clearwater Stewardship Project, one of the most complicated projects attempted. “It had many different restoration activities, everything from bridge construction to the installation of vault toilets to improve water quality in Seeley Lake,” the company says. Pyramid’s restoration expertise includes water quality and fish and wildlife habitat improvement, road decommissioning and recreation facilities to improve water quality.

Since 1949

Pyramid Mountain Lumber is the oldest surviving family owned and operated lumber mill in Montana. “Since 1949, our success is due to decades of building personal relationships with landowners,” the company states. “Our objective has always been to create healthy forests while producing quality lumber products in demand around the country. Dedication to being trustworthy stewards of the land is our hallmark.”

The company is in its second and third generation of family management. It employs full-time 140 people and provides as many jobs in contract logging and trucking in the area. Its key business partners include Hansons Finest Oil Company.

Pyramid Mountain Lumber was founded in 1949 by two friends, Fred Johnson and Oscar Mood. They both were employed in the timber industry in Minnesota, but visited several lumbermen who had moved to Montana from Minnesota. They heard about a lumber mill for sale in Seeley Lake, Mont., so in the winter of 1949, they purchased the Bockmier Mill and renamed it “J & M Lumber.”

At the time, houses in Seeley Lake were called “tar paper shacks.” Skunks resided under the floors of these houses and pack rats lived in the woodsheds. “In 1949, the closest thing to a public utility was the hand water pump at the local garage/blacksmith shop,” the company says.

In 1958, the company reorganized from a partnership between Johnson and Mood to a corporation owned by the two families. It was renamed Pyramid Mountain Lumber Inc. Current owners Roger Johnson and his sons, Steve and Todd, believe in the importance of maintaining and managing forests.

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