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State logging more intense, increasingly mechanized – Audio

[audio:|titles=Mark Rickenbach on logging in Wisconsin]

State of Wisconsin’s logging business

For more information:

Mark Rickenbach, Professor
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 262-0134

3:04 – Total Time

0:17 – What’s new about logging business
0:26 – What is intensity
0:59 – Examples of new mechanization
1:30 – What logging means to Wisconsin
2:03 – Products generated by logging
2:24 – Future of logging in the state
2:54 – Lead out


The state of the Wisconsin logging business. We’re visiting today with Mark Rickenbach, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Sevie Kenyon: Mark, can you tell us what’s new about the logging business in the state?

Mark Rickenbach: The logging sector is changing; it’s becoming more mechanized. The logging firms are actually becoming more intense in how they harvest.

Sevie Kenyon: Can you tell us what intensity is?

Mark Rickenbach: Intensity is, kind of, how much wood they’re taking off the land. So, for an individual harvest, how much wood are they taking off? What we’re seeing is an increase in that intensity and a lot of that relates to the logging sector becoming more mechanized. So, mechanized means, instead of somebody out there with a chainsaw cutting down all the trees, there’s large pieces of equipment that cost a lot of money that they’re using to harvest trees. So they can actually be more efficient in the use of the wood that they remove and they can use smaller trees much more easily.

Sevie Kenyon: Can you give us some examples, perhaps, of the mechanization and the intensity?

Mark Rickenbach: Basically, there are now equipment in the woods where they can reach out and grab a tree, cut it off, pick it up and cut all the limbs off of it before they ever put it on a truck. All that happens in, kind of, one step where, historically, they would have cut the tree down with a chainsaw, they would have walked along the tree and cut all the limbs off with a chainsaw, and then cut the tree into bolts and then loaded it on a truck. So now they’ve been able to take that process and put it into single pieces of equipment.

Sevie Kenyon: Can you tell us a little bit, Mark, about the logging business and what it means?

Mark Rickenbach: So, the logging business is, kind of, where forestry gets implemented and how this $16 billion industry in the state, the forest products industry, is supported. Basically, someone needs to go out and collect all the trees that flow into the industry. Loggers is the backbone of that industry. They are the ones that actually go out and do that work, remove those trees, but at the same time also ensure that we’re protecting water quality and providing the other benefits we expect from the forest.

Sevie Kenyon: Can you typify the type of products and trees that the logging business harvest here?

Mark Rickenbach: They will harvest pulp logs that go into the paper making process. They will harvest saw timber; so, things that might be used to make kitchen cabinets or different types of millwork. We’re seeing a little bit now of them harvesting woody biomass that might be used for energy production.

Sevie Kenyon: Mark, I’d like you to tell us what you see 5, 10, 15 years down the road?

Mark Rickenbach: One of the challenges that the industry faced in the last ten years was an aging workforce and a reduction in the number of people in the logging business. That trend is going to continue and so I think the challenge is, “How do you recruit a rural workforce that wants to work in this industry?” A big piece of that is mechanization, I think, is being able to make that easier so that people aren’t necessarily out there running a chainsaw all day. But, creating a workforce that’s able to support this industry in the future, I think, is probably the biggest challenge facing it.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Mark Rickenbach, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.