FRA’s Lake States Region Activity Report

by 
At FRA’s Annual Meeting, each region shares information on the key wood supply chain issues facing the forest industry. The following is the report for the Lake States Region.

 

Arbor Day

 

Issues & Trends

Markets: After a shaky start to winter logging in some parts of the region, the season ended strong with cold temperatures that allowed access to lowland conifers and hardwoods that require frozen roads to access. This allowed wood buyers to build inventories going into the spring break-up period.

The long winter proved to be beneficial as spring was mostly cool and wet. Strong inventories allowed for a bridging of the inventory gap until summer harvest can begin. June has shown some promise as trees are now leafed out and the evapotranspiration process has begun to dry the forest floor allowing loggers access to their forests to begin summer harvest operations.

Biomass markets in the region remain a challenge as there is a surplus of biomass in the region.

Transportation: This remains an issue with some loggers reporting idling equipment during the winter logging season due to lack of truck driver availability. The American Trucking Association reports that the driver shortage will continue to widen over the next decade if solutions are not found.

Wisconsin Congressional members have taken the lead on the Safe Routes Act in both the House and Senate. Representative Gallagher (R-8) and Senator Johnson (R), both from Wisconsin, are lead sponsors in the respective chambers.

Bat HCP: The Lake States Region continues to collaborate with the Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin on the Lake States Region Bat Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Our goal is to create an HCP that is reasonable and allows forestry to continue business as usual. In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reviewed the draft HCP submitted by the three DNRs. The DNRs are reviewing the comments from the USFWS and a document should be released to the public to review in the last quarter of 2019.

Logger Focus Group: In April, the Lake States Region held a focus group for loggers. The focus group participants were asked a series of questions that were designed to generate discussions on issues of concern or importance that impacted their businesses. The issues identified as most pressing by the group were increasing cost of equipment, trucking, employee retention, and stumpage availability. FRA worked with the University of Minnesota and prepared a Technical Release of the results of the focus groups. These results can be found here on the FRA website (Note: website access required. Contact [email protected] for help logging in).

Forest Service: The Lake States Region continues to work with the Forest Service to increase the use of Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) and Stewardship contracts to increase timber sales. The Lakes States Region is the top producer of GNA timber volume in Region 9 of the Forest Service. The use of these authorities additionally have contributed to significant increases in Forest Service timber outputs over the last two years. These authorities now account for nearly 40 percent of Forest Service timber outputs in the region. FY2019 additionally shows a year-over-year increase in timber outputs.

The Minnesota DNR recently released the Minnesota Public Stumpage Review for 2018. This report shows that a 1.4 percent increase in public timber volume offered and a year-over-year decrease for stumpage price of 10 percent for all species in the state.

The Forest Service, the state of Minnesota, and St. Louis County are discussing a Shared Stewardship Plan on 500,000 acres in the northeast part of the State. The goal is to begin coordination on broader forest management on a larger scale to address forest health risk and opportunities for collaborative management across ownerships.

What’s on the Horizon

The Lake States Region Fall Meeting is scheduled for October 7-9 in Duluth, MN. Speakers have been confirmed from Minnesota Power, NCASI, University of Minnesota, and USFS Forest Products Lab. A field tour will also be held during the meeting. Please save the dates, and look for more information as registration goes live.