For loggers in Northeastern Minnesota, this has been a very difficult year. First came the closure of Verso’s paper mill in Duluth which slashed demand for several species of wood, and then there was the mild winter which has shortened the prime logging season. Loggers are required secure timber permits for timber stands they intend to harvest, and they do so by placing a deposit equal to 15% on the value on the timber on that land. However, if the sale is forfeited, the down payment is lost. Loggers are currently seeking some form of relief due to the closure of the Verso paper mill and the unusually mild winter. Mike Birkeland, executive vice president of Minnesota Forest Industries and the Minnesota Timber Producers Association, says that across the industry there is more than $1 million tied up in those state permits for mostly spruce and balsam timber that were destined for Verso before it closed. But, Birkeland said, modifying the permits require statutory changes so industry groups are pushing for a bill in the Minnesota Legislature that would allow the DNR to refund the down payments if logging has not started on the land. Birkeland went onto say, “Rather than the loggers be held liable for these sales that were conducted in good faith with markets at the time, we’re looking to provide other options and … provide some relief on those commitments related to down payments on some of these timber sales.”
FEA compiles the Wood Markets News from various 3rd party sources to provide readers with the latest news impacting forest product markets. Opinions or views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of FEA.
Faced with Verso closure, mild temperatures, logging industry battles challenging year