Summary of Business – FRA 2023 Lake States Region Fall Meeting


The FRA 2023 Lake States Region Fall Meeting “Moving Forestry Forward” was held in Duluth, MN, on October 17-18. This year’s meeting boasted record attendance and sponsorship. The quality of the speaker lineup and content of the presentations no doubt contributed to the meetings’ success.

FRA Lake States Region Steering Committee Chair Jim Hoppe (Packaging Corporation of America) provided opening remarks and introduced FRA’s President-elect, Keith Gray, who will become FRA’s next President when Deb Hawkinson retires on November 1. 

Andrew Arends, Deputy Director of the MN-DNR Forestry Division, welcomed meeting participants to Minnesota. Mr. Arends provided an overview of the state’s forest resources and the role the MN-DNR has in assuring a reliable and predictable supply of timber. The MN-DNR currently provides 30 percent of the timber volume harvested in MN annually.

Day one featured presentations addressing regional, national, and global market outlooks for the forest products industry, innovative forest products, regional association reviews of regional policy and legislative challenges, and workforce development and training. 

Following the presentations, meeting attendees took part in a field trip to visit the Louisiana Pacific Innovation Center, which held its grand opening in Duluth in June 2023. The Innovation Center evaluates installation and application methods for engineered wood building products and works to develop and test new products. The field trip also included a meeting with researchers at the Natural Resources Research Institute.

The evening awards banquet recognized Brad Rootkie of Central Pine Lumber as the 2023 Lake States Region Outstanding Logger. Professor Charlie Blinn, University of Minnesota, was awarded the 2023 Lake States Region Technical Writing Award for authoring the Technical Release “Status and Trends of Minnesota’s Logging Sector in 2012.” Both Brad and Charlie will compete for national recognition at the FRA Annual Meeting in April 2024.

The second day of the meeting included presentations on public timber supply with a panel that included representatives from the US Forest Service, MN Association of County Land Commissioners, and MN-DNR. Brian Brashaw, US-Forest Service, discussed wood innovation projects and the availability of grants to promote the development of innovative wood products. An update was provided by James McFarland, US Forest Service, on the status of the federal mature and old growth policy currently being developed by the Forest Service. 

Day two presentations additionally included a research review on timber harvesting challenges of small landowners, estimating current and future carbon stocks and emissions in Minnesota’s forests and forest products under various management scenarios, and hydrological and water quality responses to forest management in Minnesota landscapes. The meeting closed with panel discussions reviewing rural economic development, alternative energy transition, and grid reliability.

Please find below a list of meeting speakers and topics. The presentations we have permission to share have been posted to the FRA website under Resources / Presentations. You must be signed in as a member to access these presentations. If you have any issues, please contact Vanessa Connelly at [email protected] 

Welcome to Minnesota – Andrew Arends – Deputy Director, MN DNR

Regional and Global Markets of the Forest Products Industry – Jeremy Kessinger, Senior Consultant, Business Intelligence, ResourceWise 

Sappi’s Dissolving Wood Pulp: Production, Markets, and Certification – Jeff Brungardt – Director of Fiber Sales, Sappi & Rebecca Barnard – Forestry Certification Manager, Sappi

Lake States Region Policy/Legislative Challenges and Opportunities:

Ray Higgins – Executive Vice President, MN Timber Producers Association

Henry Schienebeck – Executive Director, Great Lakes Timber Producers Association

Rick Horton – Executive Vice President, MN Forest Industries

Wisconsin Forestry Careers Coalition – Dr. Les Werner – Director, Wisconsin Forestry Center, Professor of Forestry – College of Natural Resources, UW Stevens Point

Public Timber Programs:

Steve Kuennen – Director, Renewable Resources, USDA Forest Service

Andrew Arends – Deputy Director, MN DNR

Nate Hiebel – Land Commissioner, Koochiching County

Wood Innovations and the Connection to Forest Management – Brian Brashaw – Assistant Director, USDA Forest Service State, Private, and Tribal Forestry Cooperative Forestry

Updates on Federal Mature and Old Growth Policy

James McFarland – Assistant Director, Renewable Resources, USDA Forest Service

Research Review:

Timber Harvesting Challenges on Small Family Forests in Northern Minnesota

Charlie Blinn – Professor, UMN, Department of Forest Resources

USFS Industry Roundtable Results and Next Steps

Emily Huff – Assistant Professor, MSU, Department of Forestry                                                       

Estimating Current and Future Carbon Stocks and Emissions in Minnesota Forests and Forest Products Under Multiple Management Scenarios

John Zobel – Assistant Professor, UMN, Department of Forest Resources

Hydrologic and Water Quality Responses to Forest Management in Minnesota Landscapes

Lucy Rose – Researcher, UMN, Department of Forest Resources

Alternate Energy Transition:

Mark Bakk – General Manager, Lake Country Power

Jennifer Cady – Director, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, ALLETE

Mike Birkeland – Vice President of Electrification and Member Experience, Beltrami Electric Cooperative

Economic Opportunities and Challenges of the Rural Economy:

Janelle Greschner – Director of Business Recruitment, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board

Dave Chura – Chair, Jobs for Minnesotans

Rachel Johnson – President and CEO, APEX

Thank You to our Sponsors