Wisconsin’s Unknown Gold Mine

Wisconsin has an unknown gold mine of wealth,
ready and waiting to be tapped -
to quickly create many thousands of jobs -
and pump Billions of Dollars into our local economy.

It is right in front of us, as close as the nose on our face, yet we don’t see it.

This would not be part of the government’s new economic stimulus package.   It would not be funded with our taxes or have big costs to be added to our national debt.   It would be funded by the inherit value of an existing and extensive local resource.  It would be accomplished by discriminating consumers – ‘voting’ with their purchases in the marketplace. This would create jobs and rebuild our economy as it actually fixes one of the ongoing causes of our current economic crisis.

The millions of trees we see all around us everyday are an under-valued and poorly managed resource that could quickly boost our economy – if we would take advantage of the accessible wealth that we have failed to capture in the past.

No one in the government knows the timber industry –
no one sees the potential -
even though it is right in front of their eyes. 
No one in the media knows the timber industry –
the amazing potential goes unseen.

We need a new view and knowledge of our forests.

Timber, the past, was always plentiful & cheap, and in the way of agriculture & progress.  There has been no incentive to manage our timber for the future, it has always been cut for short term greed of both the forest owners and the timber corporations.  Our once thriving timber industry (timber was a $30,000,000,000/year industry in Wisconsin a the late 1980s) – has been  closing down for nearly two decades as cheap labor in the far east and stolen timber from the rain forest and Siberia has flooded our neighborhood big box stores with cheap imported wood products.   We have already lost about $10,000,000,000 in annual production and tens of thousands of jobs here in Wisconsin.   Forests in S Wisconsin produce just 25% of their potential growth and forest owners receive just a few percent of the woods value.  Prices paid to timber owners are now half of what it was a decade ago - as many Wisconsin mills close and those still in operation have to cut their costs to survive a little longer.  Forest management opportunities in traditional markets are failing faster and faster with no hope for any improvement. 

These ongoing trends doom our forest products industry:

  1. Our timber has been over-harvested and high-graded over and over
  2. The average size of our woodlots is shrinking
  3. Loggers now have larger machinery, needing large harvests
  4. Big mills are downsizing and closing – resulting in less demand and lower prices
  5. Wood imports flood the big box stores with cheap veneered products
  6. High property taxes pressure forest owners to harvest anything left – now.

TODAY - At the start of 2009, the big timber mills in the U.S. continue to downsize and close.  Much of our best logs and lumber are exported to the Far East for manufacturing.  This wood is then shipped back to us and this imported “engineered” wood floods our big box stores, creating increased competition for our remaining wood producers.  There is no end in sight.  Government forestry programs are fully embedded in these industrial trends – I seen no hope for our government to be of any help in any of this.

more: Fatal Flaws of Industrial Forestry

Wood products are still very valuable and people use wood everyday, everywhere.  There is a huge potential for Wisconsin’s economic growth if consumers chose to use locally grown and manufactured forest products.

If:   Timber was harvested, manufactured, and sold direct to customers in Wisconsin –
by small community based businesses….

100,000 new jobs could be created right here, generating $5,000,000,000 that would stay right in the local economy.   Logs would be processed here, instead of shipping them half way around the world, then shipping the thinly veneered manufactured products back again.  Urban trees could add another 10% to the wood supply if small business utilized this vast and growing resource.

Solid – natural – wood products that last a lifetime would be produced instead of cheap manufactured furniture and flooring that soon ends up in a landfill.

This economic revitalization would be funded by the high value that is present in our timber, not another government welfare program paid for by our taxes or by adding to our nation’s debt.  It would be funded by eliminating the brokers/middlemen/shippers/wholesalers that get most of the value wood products today.  It would be directed by common sense and wisdom.

Consumers can change this situation quickly and effectively by choosing to buy locally grown and manufactured forest products.  Local wood can be a perfect substitute for imported products, and is in many ways better.

more:  Buying Local ISN'T....

One thing we can all do is to buy U.S. manufactured products and avoid imported products.  But, why should the 10,000,000,000 forest owners in the U.S. continue to sell their timber crops for much less than the costs of production in the traditional timber markets??

Promote Small, Local, Community-based Business!    

Wood is very simple to manufacture on a small scale by a local small business.  Thousands of existing small sawmills could quickly increase their production.  Solar heated lumber dry kilns could dry the lumber with free power from the sun.    Waste wood could power the lumber industry – just like in the past.  Abandoned farm buildings could be renovated to house woodworking shops.  All the needed information and tools are available today.  Eliminating the middlemen/brokers/shippers is the key.  Anyone can choose to do this.  People would actually prefer to buy locally grown and manufactured solid wood products – if they had the choice.

At Timbergreen Farm near Spring Green, we sell our annual timber harvest - as manufactured wood products – direct to our customers.   We earn ten times the stumpage value that a timber buyer would pay for our very best ‘veneer’ trees,           one hundred times the value a timber buyer would pay for our annual sawlog harvest, and one thousand times the value of our small diameter trees
in the traditional timber markets

The National Picture:

Wisconsin represents about 10% of the nation’s timber industry.  To get the national perspective – the once $300,000,000,000/year industrial system is closing down everywhere.  Millions of jobs and Tens of Billions of dollars of products could be quickly created by using locally grown and manufactured forest products – my capturing the value present in our standing forests, and keeping it in our communities.

Needed:  Locally owned community based small businesses.  Only the forest owner can manage for the future.  Earning full retail values makes forest management a profitable and sustainable business.  Could be a single family, neighborhood group LLC, or cooperative business.  All the tools, methods, and information are available today for anyone who chooses to tap into this renewable gold mine of opportunity that is growing all around us.

We should also choose to support our remaining timber industry by purchasing their products and avoiding foreign imports.  I’d rather support a Wisconsin paper mill than one in China.

Or we can just spend our government stimulus check at WalMart, Save Money, and Live Better.