Logging in central Utah, once a major industry three decades ago, may soon be on the upswing.

Rocky Mountain Forest Products Inc., a Utah firm that has been organized by a group of Idahoans engaged in the timber business in that state, has announced plans to establish a sizeable sawmill operation in Manti.The company has reportedly taken an option on some land and water rights about a mile south of Manti.

Bill Purcell, who has been employed by Boise Cascade for several years, is president of Rocky Mountain Forest Products. Rocky Smith is vice president.

Smith said a milling enterprise in the Manti area is feasible largely because of the availability of the raw product - Englemann spruce, Douglas fir, white pine, aspen - within a reasonable hauling distance (200 miles). He said such circumstances are becoming increasingly difficult to come by in Idaho.

Another reason, he said, is because Manti is closer to the company's major markets - Salt Lake City, Denver and Laramie, Wyo. - than their Idaho operations.

The Manti City Council has endorsed the project and has passed a resolution in support of an industrial bond issue. Most of the funds for the Manti operation are already available. The remainder will be raised from the bond issue sale, Smith said.

The firm would not only benefit financially from the low-interest rates such a bond would provide, but the operation would also qualify for corporate tax benefits under the state's new Enterprise Zone legislation by locating in a depressed rural area.

Smith said there is more than an adequate long-term supply of forest resources in the area.

The Manti operation would initially employ about 60 people.