The logging sector in the lake states of michigan, minnesota, and wisconsin: Status, issues, and opportunities

Shivan Gc, Karen Potter-Witter, Charles R. Blinn, Mark Rickenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Coordinated mail surveys of logging businesses in the Lake States of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were conducted in spring 2017 to assess the status and capacity of the sector in 2016. Many similarities among logging businesses were noted across the region. Despite the presence of many small logging businesses, much of the volume (58 percent) is produced by a few large producers (13 percent) who seem to have an advantage over their smaller counterparts. Businesses and business owners are aging (average business duration, 27 years and average owner age, 54 years), and the majority are producing below their full operational capacity and achieving break-even profit levels. About one-fourth of the businesses intend to exit the market in the next 5 years, and there is a lack of factors attracting new workforce members into business. Differences exist among states in terms of harvesting systems used, source and method of timber procurement, and transportation strategy adopted. Study Implications: A better understanding about the situation of logging businesses among policymakers, foresters, landowners, and the forest products industry is essential to help sustain and strengthen this sector in the future. Our results reveal that few large logging businesses produce a major share of the volume harvested in the Lake States region. This trend is expected to continue as many small businesses struggle to compete with large producers and intend to exit from the market in near future. The absence of small logging businesses may have an impact on forest management in small nonindustrial private forests, which are predominantly harvested by such producers. Logging business owners across the region are aging and approaching their retirement age. This means that significant business turnover is likely to take place in the future. Efforts should, therefore, be made to get the next generation ready for business. This can be done by aiding current business owners in their successional planning and business transition decisions, offering training programs to get new business owners ready for business, and looking for ways of diversifying the pool of logging workforce. In addition, measures can be taken to improve the operational capacity and efficiency of current logging businesses so that they can operate profitably and continue to remain in business.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-514
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Forestry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • Forest products industry
  • Logger survey
  • Logging capacity
  • Timber harvesting


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