Northern New Mexico loggers could soon have a new venue for their product. Lance Forest Products will relocate a sawmill business to Cimarron with the help of a $350,000 investment from the state Economic Development Department.
At least 40 employees will be needed to run the sawmill while about the same number could be contracted by Lance Forest Products to log private forests and deliver the material to the Cimarron facility, according to information from the state. The pay will be $15 - $18 an hour, according to the family.
According to a press release, Lance Forest Products, based in Northern California, has agreements in place with Northern New Mexico ranches for timber harvesting and thinning. State officials believe thinning the forests will help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires such as the Ute Park blaze that burned 36,000 acres in and around Philmont Ranch in 2018 and forced evacuations of nearby communities.
"The Village of Cimarron also plans to develop an industrial park around the new sawmill to serve businesses that can use wood products for furniture and pellets," according to a statement.
“We are delighted to welcome Lance Forest Products to New Mexico,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said in the statement. “This company will revitalize the forest restoration economy in Cimarron, restoring confidence in the community, bringing needed jobs, and improving forest resilience to climate change. It's a win-win for all.”
Sawmill owners John and Art Lance, along with their father, have more than 60 years in the wood products industry in Northern California, Southern Oregon, and Colorado.
The family has harvested on the Vermejo Park Ranch and Trinidad, and owned a sawmill in Pagosa Springs.
Colfax County Commissioner Landon Newton said there was a mill for many years at the site where the Lance family plans to put the sawmill.
“This will be a positive thing for the community, a lot of people have been working hard to make this happen," Newton said in a statement.
The Lances are planning to relocate $1.2 million of equipment to Northern New Mexico by rail or truck and expect to begin operations by mid-2020.