Forest products industry gathers for Spring Celebration

R. R. Branstrom | Daily Press Scott Dane of the American Loggers Council points to mill closures as one major reason that those affiliated with the timber industry have had trouble finding work lately.

HARRIS — The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) — the same organization that unites members and aficionados for the Great Lakes Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo, held in Escanaba and Green Bay on alternating years — brought its Spring Celebration to the Island Resort and Casino Tuesday. The convention-style event featured speakers in the showroom, around 50 exhibitors, a luncheon, an award presentation and prizes.

The two major sponsors were the Hamilton Roddis Foundation, which brought the first two presenters — Steve Gould with “Target-Focused Life” and Margaret Byfield with “American Stewards of Liberty” — to the stage, and Kemp Natural Resources Station, a research and teaching division of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

With the industry in a slump, a gathering of loggers and truckers today would not be complete without discussions of its state. Marty Ochs from the Green Bay Innovation Group addressed at length the perceived need to bring saw mills and logging jobs back to local hands. Ochs spoke specifically about Wisconsin, mostly, but the American Loggers Council (ALC) assured the audience the problem isn’t restricted to the Great Lakes Region.

Nationally, within the last 15 months, 50 mills have closed, resulting in the loss of 10,000 jobs, reported Scott Dane, executive director of the ALC.

“We’re not having any less demand for wood products; we’re just importing it from other sources,” Dane said.

Dane, along with GLTPA Director Henry Schienebeck and other loggers from around the country, will be heading to Washington, D.C. next week to represent the interests of independent contractors logging in the U.S.

Another international issue was brought to light when Rebecca Barnard, forestry certification manager for Sappi North America, explained the new European Union Deforestation Regulation so that suppliers here may know how to comply. When the regulation takes effect on Dec. 30 of this year, no timber or byproducts harvested from land that was then converted to farmland may be sold to the E.U.

Between discussions, the GLTPA honored Michigan House Representative Cam Cavitt with a merit award for 2024 Legislator of the Year, citing his role in protecting the “future of Michigan’s forest industry.” Board members commended Cavitt’s support for the Billerud mill in Escanaba to receive $200 million per Senate Bill 7 and other policies that “ensure stability for sustainable forest management.”


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