JEMEZ, N.M. (KRQE) - Wildfires in the Jemez Mountains have left thousands of acres in the Santa Fe National Forest damaged.
For many, that damage meant the loss of grazing areas, industry and other valuable lands. However, a new pellet mill is designed to change that.
"Having this mill here is a way for us to be able to take some of that material out of the forest and utilize," that for economic development," said James Melonas, a forest supervisor.
After six years of hard work and planning, Walatowa Industries and local wood industry expert Terry Conely, are restoring the forests one load of damaged trees at a time.
"Wood pellets are one thing that it doesn't matter how crooked or how small or what you can make a wood pellet out of them," said Terry Conely, TC Company owner.
The factory will not only make pellets for burning, but it will also make wood chips for landscaping and even custom vigas for homes.
Coney says it's not just only about turning a profit.
"We're utilizing the wood right here from the forest that we need to so our grandkids and everybody can enjoy our forests in the future," said Conley.
The new pellet mill can turn out 32 tons of pellets per day.
The mill's manager, Cutty Donovan says the mill will require the hands of at least 30 employees and bring much-needed jobs to the Jemez area.
The new business will also give area residents the option to buy locally fueling the economy.
Jemez Pueblo Governor Paul Chinana says other pueblos and counties are already looking at the project in hopes of building something similar in their area.