A Special Forestry Meeting was held Tuesday, June 6, 2017 to offer education on the effects of restrictive regulation on the Logging Industry.
The logging industry is the 2nd largest industry in the state. Placing restrictive regulation on the industry will cause hardship for loggers as well as buyers of the timber.
Jane Severt, Executive Director of Wisconsin County Forest Association presented information on the State Forests. Wisconsin has 29 counties with county forests. In those forests, timber was harvested from over 40,000 acres. Aside from timber harvesting, county forests offer recreational areas, including camping, ATV trails and snowmobile trails as well as wildlife habitat.
The state compensates counties for public land use, thereby providing revenue to the counties.
Henry Schienebeck, Executive Director for Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association in Rhineland stated that 55% of the membership of the association is made up by Producers and 12% by truck drivers. Schieneback has been a part of the logging industry for many years, including being a former logger.
Great Lake Timber Professionals Association actively works with federal, state and local government on issues that may affect the logging industry. Schienebeck stated Wisconsin doesn’t harvest more timber than is grown, rather 2.5 more timber is growing than is being harvested.
Severt and Schienebeck have been working on identifying and researching five issues that could affect the forests in Wisconsin. They include timber supply, forest certification, Wisconsin Management Forest Law program, Deer and Education. With assistance of a grant, a study has been performed to focus on the issues that can and will affect the logging industry, now and in the future. One of the primary goals was to find out how loggers can continue to their jobs, and do them well.
Restrictions placed on loggers harvesting of timber will not only affect the logging industry, but will affect mills that purchase the timber as well. According to Bob Peterson, Wood Procurement Manager for Domtar, consistent production for loggers equals consistent production for the companies that purchase the product. The more seasonal restrictions placed on the logging industry will reduce the consistent supply to buyers. This can cause storage issues for the buyers, as they need to run year-round, not on a seasonal time clock.
Peterson suggested working together, in ways that would help the industry. One way would be to help with access (roads) which can make a significant difference when harvesting timber.
There is constant fluctuation in the logging industry, more so than many people realize. Contracts change from month to month. Along with the fluctuation, loggers are being squeezed by the mills along with being confined by restrictions.
While root rot, oak wilt, extinction and other factors were discussed, and it appears that the guidelines for these are not clear and left to the interpretation of those enforcing them.
Ole Iverson of Black River Falls has been logging for over 60 years. Iverson stated that “if everyone don’t get together, loggers will become extinct”. Iverson recalled logging in years gone by, stating it was the loggers that managed the forest back then.