Oregon House, Calif. (June 21, 2023) – With significant increases in federal and state funding for forest health and resilience projects to mitigate severe wildfire risk across California, enormous amounts of smaller diameter wood and brush are being produced through unprecedented mechanical thinning operations.

Sawmill Workshop Attendees
Sawmill Workshop Attendees

Sustainably processing this woody material through sawmills, biomass plants, cross-laminated timber, or other new wood-based technologies is needed. This need creates an important opportunity for California business owners already working in the forestry sector and for those that are considering transitioning or starting a business to support this vital restoration work.

The Forest Business Alliance has partnered with The Beck Group to develop workshops designed for new sawmill owners to be as successful as possible in their operations, make connections with technical experts, and increase utilization of products from forest health and resilience operations throughout California.

The first workshop was recently held at the Alcouffe Center in Oregon House, CA. The workshop covered basic manufacturing processes, key sawmill performance metrics, market and manufacturing for lumber, log supply and processing sawmill byproducts, among other topics. This workshop was highly attended, with more than 60 participants from existing and newly built sawmills around California.

Joe Rath, owner of Rath Industries Sawmill (Redding, California) was one those in attendance – “The FBA sawmilling workshop gave us some great new tools to help us think about how we’re measuring production and profitability, not to mention the networking opportunity.”

Beau Shaffer is the construction manager with Hat Creek Lumber near Burney, CA. As a newcomer to the industry, Beau found great value in the event. “The information presented by Bryan [Beck] and his team was easily digestible with a broad range of focus, spanning everything from the milling process to the financials associated with sawmill operation. With the need for new sawmills to support forest restoration goals, this workshop would be the first step I would recommend to anybody interested in a sawmilling venture” says Shaffer.

“We were excited at the level of interest in this first workshop and hope that this information spawns a wide range of creative thinking and investment in the forest restoration economy that we must build if we are to achieve the forest restoration goals of the State”—Vance Russell, VRCC.


The Forest Business Alliance provides technical assistance, workshops, and a peer-learning network to increase local and regional capacity for applicants to CAL FIRE’s Business and Workforce Development Program. See more at forestbusinessalliance.org or contact us at forestbusinessalliance@gmail.com.

Funding for this project is provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Business and Workforce Development Grants Program, Yuba Water Agency, and USDA Forest Service Wood Innovations Program.