Timber industry finds deep roots in Copper Country

Although it’s more well-known for its mining history, the Copper Country has a strong timber presence.

ABC 10’s Keweenaw Bureau Reporter Sam Ali takes an in–depth look at one of the bigger logging companies in the area to see how they are impacting the community in more ways than one.

Since 1968, Northern Hardwoods has been one of the premier lumber companies in the Upper Peninsula and for good reason. They try to leave a positive impact on the economy and the environment. And don’t think for a minute that weather effects their plans.

Procurement forester Chad Fortin says this past winter was quite the challenge for the loggers but the work was done.

“They produced a lot of timber. A little under what we’re hoping but for the most part, all the guys there are right on top of what they normally produce. They put in longer hours and work harder so yeah, they did good,” Fortin said.

So how much wood goes in and out of Northern Hardwoods?

“A typical day here, we process about 70,000 board feet of lumber. That’s with the two shifts. We’ll dry normally about 800,000 to 900,000 of that lumber a month. And we normally ship out about a million feet of lumber out the gate here a month,” Kantola said.

Recently, State Representative Scott Dianda announced his opposition to the deregulation of forestry in Michigan and plans to stop by Northern
Hardwoods next week. General Manager John Kantola says just like the mining industry, logging is a very important part of the community just because of how long it’s been around and preserving it is key to sustaining a healthy environment.

“It’s been here for many, many years and has provided a lot of good jobs and good stability in a lot of communities. I think it is the one renewable resource that we have that I think we should take care of and manage properly so it can be here for our kids and our grandkids and that’s important,” said Kantola.

From the forest to the mill, Northern Hardwoods works very hard to preserve the land they work on and maintain the beauty of the Copper Country.

“We do selective harvest so we can come back and harvest our lands every 15 to 20 years and most of the bigger land owners in the area do the selective harvest program, which is very healthy for the forest and very healthy for the outdoor activities that goes on there. And it keeps the forest healthy so we have a strong future in harvesting timber in the U.P. for many years to come,” Kantola said.

So whether they ship within Houghton County or overseas to China, Northern Hardwoods’ prosperity will always be directly tied to the Copper Country.