ESCANABA – Among the issues that will dominate discussions at the Lake States Logging Congress this weekend in Escanaba will be the condition of Michigan roads and the availability of timber on national forests.
The 68th annual Lake States Logging Congress and Equipment Expo Friday and Saturday at the U.P. State Fairgrounds is an opportunity for timber professionals to check out the latest in harvesting and processing equipment but it is also a time to network and talk about issues of concern in the industry.
Denny Olson at Denny Olson Log Trucking in Quinnesec hopes truckers don’t get squeezed in the discussion on how to pay to fix Michigan’s roads. He is concerned that the legislature might opt for smaller trucks in an effort to lighten the impact on roadways.
“If they would want us to go back to five axle trucks, that would put more weight per axle on highways and bridges than we are now with the muti-axles or 11 axles,” Olson said. “Safety wise, the big ones are safer because you have more braking power.”
Smaller trucks would mean having to use more trucks on the road but Olson said finding drivers is difficult.
“And it’s going to get harder and harder with the new federal rules and regulations to get qualified drivers and keeping qualified drivers,” said Olson.
For Mark Huempfner, a forester and owner of Wild River Forestry in Wausaukee, Wis., the availability of timber harvests on national forests is a big issue.
“It’s a critical issue in our industry because it has caused our stumpage prices to go so high on lands that are not national forests. We have to cut more timber on state, county and private. We have this wall built up when you hit the national forest,” Huempfner said.
The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association plans to hold a hearing in October on the issue. Both Huempfner and Olson serve on the board.
The Lake States Logging Congress will run Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public is welcome to attend. Olson said he enjoys the opportunity to talk with people about the timber industry.
“There are so many things that they use each day that they take for granted that comes from that tree in the woods that we have to manage. We would love to show them how we are doing it and that we are going to build on these forests that we have been working on for years so that we are going to have a timber industry and a forest forever,” said Olson.