Government shutdown could impact timber industry

So far, the local timber industry is weathering the federal government shutdown, but if it continues, work could fall behind schedule.

CADILLAC — The federal government shutdown hasn't prevented the local timber industry from working, experts say.

But if it goes on for too long, sales could be missed and work could fall behind.

“If the shutdown continues, it’ll affect a lot more things in the future,‘ said Derek Cross, an inventory and planning specialist in the forest resources division at the Cadillac Department of Natural Resources office.

Cross works with the U.S. Forest Service to set up and manage timber sales. That means he interacts a lot with the federal government.

Everything was mostly in place before the shutdown, and he's been able to continue getting work done.

“It’s just some things are taking a little longer than they have in the past,‘ Cross said.

Government work to plan for timber sales on federal land can begin years before the trees are ever axed.

If the shutdown goes on another month, state and federal forest managers will fall behind in preparations for next year.

“It’s kind of an ongoing process,‘ Cross said.

The private timber industry has yet to feel any significant pinches due to the shutdown, according to a local forester and a sawmill manager.

“We always have private land sales we can open with,‘ said Bill Timmons, a forester for K and K Forest Products. However, future sales on federal lands are at a standstill.

Shawn Johnston, general manager of Michigan sawmills for Biewer Lumber, said he checks on the government shutdown a couple of times a week.

Biewer hasn't felt the impact of the shutdown yet, but there are a lot of time-sensitive restrictions in the logging industry. There are only certain times of the year when the work can actually be done.

Delays that go on too long could end up impacting production, Johnston said.