Friday, 11 December 2015 16:36

DNR Economic Workshop at Kretz Lumber

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The Division of Forestry began conducting listening sessions in 2013 to identify gaps in relationships between the DNR, landowners and private forestry. As a result, the Division of Forestry launched a Forest Products Services Program for their employees and began planning workshops to better educate and connect DNR foresters to landowners and businesses like Kretz Lumber.

As part of the program, Kretz Lumber Company hosted and participated in developing a two- day workshop for DNR foresters this past September. This workshop was developed to educate foresters on grading trees and logs, understanding lumber yields, gaining insight into operating a logging business and ultimately how this all relates to forest management.

About 30 DNR foresters arrived here at Kretz Lumber each day, with a mix of individuals from local, county and statewide DNR Forestry Offices. Kretz Lumber employees led discussions and provided a tour of our operations. For some of the DNR foresters participating, it had been over 20 years since they had done a mill tour. We were grateful to have the opportunity to educate and build awareness around what we do and how forestry plays such an important role in our work. Here is a recap from our workshop:

After welcomes and introductions participants started their day by attending a log and veneer grade seminar. The log grading presentation was lead by Kretz employees Kenny Bastle and Charley MacIntosh who explained how and why logs are graded and the criteria behind it. Defects such as birdpeck, mineral and heart size were viewed and discussion included how these defects affect quality and value. This conversation led to questions relating to forest management.

IMG 3214 DNR

Adjacent to the sawlog presentation the next stop was veneer log grading. Kretz Lumber’s Pete Hilgers, Columbia Forest Products’Mike Ihrke and Marion Plywood’s Pete Schwecke presented. They explained the grading procedures of veneer logs and how some defects which appear to be very minor have a huge impact on value. The main concept that was repeated was that quality is vastly more important than volume.

The groups next stop was the lumber grading presentation by Kretz Lumber employees Todd Breitenfeldt and myself. Todd explained the lumber grading rules and had sample boards of various grades. He showed how to get cuttings out of each board to make the grade. The next part was viewing logs that were partially sawn and the lumber stacked back on the logs. As the boards were removed it gave the participants an inside view of logs. The outer boards on the high quality logs consisted of high end lumber and as you get closer to the middle the grade dropped sharply. Lumber yields by log grade were explained.

Everyone then had the opportunity to watch Kretz Lumber Company’s sawmill run and could use the knowledge gained to see various logs being sawn and grades coming from these logs.

After lunch there was a discussion with local logging operation owners (Jon Woller, Dennis Schoeneck, Tim Jacobs) and Ryan Medo (Verso forester) on cost of operating a logging business. Investment costs, labor, insurance, harvesting restrictions and sale size were just some of the topics discussed. On small sales with 200 cords or less, the down time of moving made the sale inoperable. When logging operation owners are faced with seasonal harvesting restrictions it puts a tremendous burden on their operating budget. They explained that payments are due on a regular schedule and to keep quality people working for them is tough when there are limited jobs available during summer and fall months.

The last stop of the day was with DNR silviculturalist (Brad Hutnick, Greg Edge, Collen Matulla) and consulting forester Tom Hittle. Forest management was discussed and how the information gathered and presented earlier could be used in future management decisions.

A lot of work went into creating and delivering this program. DNR personnel that were instrumental behind the scenes were Collin Buntrock, Steve Hubbard, Anna Healy and Sue Crowley. There were also many additional individuals from the DNR and Kretz Lumber Company as well as other industry personnel that played an important role in the day’s success. It was rewarding to see the efforts of our industry and the DNR working together to build a stronger forestry program in Wisconsin. We were grateful to have had the opportunity to host the event. The information shared brought participants one step closer to getting on the same page when it comes to forest management for economic, ecological and social benefits.

Do you have questions you’d like to ask a forester? Send them to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And for more information about Kretz Lumber Forestry Services, visit


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