One of the largest employers of southern Utah workers has announced it will be closing its doors, resulting in the loss of 200 jobs.
Kaibab Forest Products, based in the northern Arizona border town of Fredonia, recruits much of its work force from nearby Kanab, Utah.The company, which has been in continuous operation for 40 years, will turn off its saw blades March 31, 1995. More than 200 people will be laid off.
"This is devastating," Fredonia Mayor Brent MacKelprang said after hearing the news on Thursday. "When your largest supporter in the community shuts down, it has drastic effects."
Kaibab officials blame strict environmental legislation for the mill closing.
"We've been fighting environmental red tape from the beginning," said Ted Atherly, the sawmill plant manager. "The (U.S.) Forest Service has not put any timber sales up. The environmentalists won't let them. Therefore, the raw material is just not available to run this one and the one in Panguitch."
The company will continue to operate a scaled-down version of the Fredonia plant in Panguitch, Utah. Tentative plans include adding 40 jobs to the Panguitch sawmill work force of 25, Atherly said.
The Fredonia plant will close in two phases.
"The sawmill will cut its last log Feb. 1," Atherly said. "On March 31, the planer will go down and it will be all over."