Verso announced an indefinite shutdown of its paper mills in Duluth, Minnesota, and Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, at the end of July.
Representatives of the forest products industry in both states immediately decried the impacts the move will have.
“There’s not going to be a single corner of the forest products industry and the timber industry that doesn’t feel the impacts of Verso’s shutdown,” said Scott Dane, the executive director for the Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota.
The Verso mill in Duluth primarily uses spruce and balsam. Loggers typically have to harvest all the species within a permit area and cannot pick and choose specific species. With the Verso shutdown, it leaves loggers with thousands of cords of wood without a place to sell it.
“It’s going to impact our ability to harvest the other species to continue supporting the other mills in Minnesota that are looking for the aspen and other species that come off of those sales, so it’s going to have an impact on every aspect of the forest products industry in Minnesota unfortunately,” said Dane.
“Just because you’re a logger that didn’t supply Verso, don’t pretend that this isn’t going to impact you because it’s going to,” added Dane.
“We understand it’s not the fault of the company. It’s just a circumstance of the times and the COVID pandemic that we are in,” said Henry Schienebeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, which covers Wisconsin and Michigan.
The shutdowns will have a cascading negative impact on Wisconsin’s forest products industry and the health of Wisconsin forests, according to the association.
More than 3,000 loggers and log truckers supply the two mills with a high percentage of the wood they require to produce paper.