Talking timber at Spring Celebration

HARRIS – Though Monday’s weather wasn’t very spring-like, 650 loggers and timbermen attended the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association’s (GLPTA) 6th Annual Spring Celebration at the Island Resort and Casino in Harris.

Participants came from Michigan and Wisconsin to gain education credits required for continued certification in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), a program which sets standards of management geared to protect and maintain forests for future generations.

The day’s agenda included speakers, lunch, and opportunities to meet with various product and service vendors. Logging equipment, including a harvester and semi trucks, were on display outside.

Keynote speaker was Jim Petersen, co-founder of the Evergreen Foundation, a non-profit forestry research and educational organization with a goal to help the public understand and support science-based forestry.

Petersen stressed the importance of everyone in the logging business working together to make the industry stronger, increase public awareness of the need for sustainable forests, and encourage the younger generation to pursue careers in logging.

Petersen also urged loggers and timbermen to write to or talk with their elected officials on issues affecting the industry and its future.

He recommended Monday’s participants to speak to classes, advertise their businesses on websites and Facebook, and talk to the media about industry concerns.

Prior to Petersen’s presentation, GLPTA President Mark Huempfer said the association continues to work to increase member benefits and work on issues in the industry such as roads, permits, and environmental regulations.

A current issue is the Endangered Species Act; supporters are looking to add the wood turtle and the long-eared bat to the endangered list which would limit harvesting operations for loggers in various regions, said Huempfer.

He added the number one priority of the GLPTA organization is to meet the safety and educational needs of its members. Monday’s conference was an opportunity to gain required continuing education credits towards one’s SFI certification.

Ben Parsons, a training coordinator with the Forest Industry Safety and Training Alliance (FISTA), explained the SFI requirements. Both Michigan and Wisconsin require four hours of continuing education each year once SFI certification is earned.

In Michigan, certification requires 14 hours of core training. In Wisconsin, to become certified, participants must complete 16 hours of core classes, said Parsons. Training may include workshops in forest economy, sustainable soil and water, harvesting, invasive species, and water quality.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net