ACLT Requests MNDNR Take Action Regarding Weather Impacts to Winter Harvesting

Doug and Forrest,

If you would share this e-mail with the Commissioner I would greatly appreciate it.

I know that Doug and I spoke about this issue a couple of weeks ago and he indicated that the MNDNR was going to be monitoring the weather situation and would look to make a decision by the middle of February, but that will be too late to have an impact on this years timber harvest season.

John Gephart has done an analysis of winter freeze up patterns since the early 1900’s.  The data shows what typical or average winter subzero patterns are.  I think he should made a presentation of his analysis to you either down there or up here.

The logging industry is getting nervous and is beginning to panic as they look at current and forecast weather.  Not many are operating and those that are are operating summer sales.  The uncertainty of the weather and what the land managers are going to do is causing loggers to not be able to establish their harvest plans.  If they are forced to attempt to freeze down sites because of timber permit expirations they will be significantly increasing costs, reducing productivity and may ultimately not succeed in accessing or completing a sale.

As the lead and largest forest management public entity it is imperative that the MNDNR issue a position statement so that loggers know what to expect.  I would strongly recommend that the MNDNR policy should state that;

The MNDNR, in response to the current, forecast, and potential unseasonably warm weather that will preclude access to many winter harvest permits, will provide Adverse Weather Conditions timber permit extensions if the historical consecutive subzero periods are not realized by January 1st, 2016.  The timber permit extensions will apply to all current winter harvest permits.

The reason for applying the timber permit extensions to all winter harvest permits is because pushing this years permits into next year only creates another problem by doubling the number of permits scheduled to expire next year.  The typical MNDNR timber permit duration was five years.  In an effort to accelerate timber harvesting and land treatment prescriptions the duration of most logging permits was reduced to 3 years.  Extending them all one year would not be anything extreme considering prior MNDNR timber permit duration policy.

If by chance the weather patterns from El Nino do not materialize and the conditions prove suitable for frozen ground timber harvesting then nothing will be necessary.  But loggers deserve to have an idea of what the MNDNR is prepared to do so that they can plan and adjust their harvest plans for this winter.  Otherwise they are stuck waiting on the weather and the MNDNR before they can figure out what their options are.  As one logger put it, “without some immediate statement from the MNDNR we can’t make harvest plan decisions.  If they were to provide some direction then we would have the flexibility to plan our winter harvest operations.”

The current weather conditions have already had an impact on mill inventories.  Boise quit chipping tree length wood on Monday and Tuesday because they did not have enough.  They attempted to chip 100 inch wood but that did not workout.

Also, take a look at the link below that came out today.

I look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

Scott Dane
Executive Director
Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota