Milling the Future: Sustainable Forestry and Sawmill Operations in Northern Wisconsin
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The logging and sawmill industries have played a crucial role in shaping the landscape, economy, and culture of northern Wisconsin. They proved to be an influential force behind the foundation of Wisconsin, influencing the human geography of the state. Since the nineteenth century, ensuring the longevity of forest resources through the implementation of sustainable practices has been a concern for foresters, mill operators, and citizens alike. To identify the characteristics of these sustainable practices, we interviewed three large-scale sawmills in northern Wisconsin, analyzed logging records, and evaluated aerial images of the land. Achieving these sustainable operations relates to how the forest resources are managed (i.e. tailoring management to specific tree species), how sawmills track logs throughout the milling process, and how the sawmills make use of their by-products. Understanding the characteristics of sustainable practices can ultimately influence the endurance and future availability of valuable forest resources.