Editorial: Logging industry needs help

The three legged economic stool of taconite, tourism and timber is about to have one leg kicked out. The logging industry is dying fast.
We have a story this week about a bill being proposed to help the logging industry. Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith is co-sponsoring a bill to help our country’s logging industry survive the coronavirus pandemic.
During the most recent bailout, loggers were left by the wayside. Under the CARES Act, Congress provided $300 million to the nation’s fishing industry and $16 billion for dairy and livestock producers as well as fruit and vegetable growers. Loggers and truckers got zero.
Our local logging industry is seeing layoffs and we fear some companies may have to get out of the business altogether.
In addition to the economy residing in the outhouse, the Verso paper mill in Duluth recently shut down.
Ely logger Mike Nielson told the Duluth News-Tribune that Verso made up one-third of his business and he’s left with two years’ worth of wood meant for the company.
Nielson said not only did he bring logs to the Duluth mill, he dropped off hardwoods at Verso’s railyard in Parkland, Wisconsin, where it was then brought to Verso’s mill in Wisconsin Rapids.
“We have byproducts that no longer have a direct home,” Nielson said. “So that’s another big, big kick in the butt.”
Logging trucks can be seen parked in the Ely area. Instead of hauling wood they are collecting dust. Trees that should be harvested are rotting where they stand. The chance for forest fires is on the rise.
Smith’s bill would establish a new program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide direct payments to timber harvesting and hauling businesses that can demonstrate they have experienced significant economic hardship compared to the previous year.
Our local logging and trucking operations provide jobs, fuel our economy and work to manage our forests. Let’s get them some help.