As I write this in the middle of March, both county and state road restrictions have been implemented over the last couple of days. There is still lots of snow on the ground and with no extreme warm up in the forecast, we’ll see how long spring breakup lasts. At the request of some Michigan CRA members, the GLTPA met once in February and again in March to continue our discussions regarding county road restrictions, policies and procedures. After going through some difficult and sometimes tumultuous political negotiations between CRA, GLTPA and our partner forestry organizations in 2018, it is very encouraging that the affected parties continue to work together to come up with solutions that allow for extended hauling while still protecting the county road systems.
The State of Michigan has many different weather and temperature variances. As of this writing, Southern Lower Michigan has zero snow cover, the northern Lower Peninsula & Southern UP still have a couple of feet of snow cover and the Northern UP has several feet of snow cover with more to come. It is very difficult to come up with policies that please all affected parties. One idea that CRA is floating around is to have 6 individual regions over the State with each region having uniform road restriction start and end dates instead of each individual county road commission deciding when to implement and end road restrictions. While consistency in regional areas would make it easier to plan spring breakup jobs and trucking schedules between neighboring counties and mill sites, there is the possibility that it would implement earlier road restriction start dates in northern areas of each region and extend road restrictions in southern areas of each region. As an example, Delta, Menominee and Dickinson counties could be tied to the same breakup timeline as other counties with much more snow cover. There have been many times where the southern UP counties take county road restrictions off 30 to 45 days before all road restrictions are lifted in the far northern areas. This is just an example but something to consider in the regional versus individual county road restriction implementation conversations.
Tom Tiffany, Wisconsin District 12 senator, is working with fellow senators in re-forming the Wisconsin Paper Caucus in the state legislature. The WI Paper Caucus will be an informal, bi-partisan group of legislators as well as a representative from the Governor’s administration that will work together to craft policy that will help sustain and grow the papermaking as well as the entire forest products industry throughout the state.
I would again also like to remind everybody that the Spring Celebration will be held in Green Bay at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center on Friday, April 12th. Registration will be from 7:30 to 8:30 AM. As always, there is a large contingent of both inside and outside vendors and displays. Our dealers & suppliers spend much time and money supporting the GLTPA and the entire forest products industry on a yearly basis and look forward to seeing all of you at this event.
Until Next Month.
Bruce “Sparky” Enstrom