Timber Takes Center Stage at 67th Annual North Star Expo

The Annual Event Was Postponed in 2020 Due to COVID-19

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – It’s an industry providing over 32,000 Minnesotans with jobs, and over $2 billion in wages every year.

Logging is vital to the state, and at a recent expo in Grand Rapids, the importance was front and center.

“It’s good work for the people up here in northern Minnesota,” said Corey Wilson, attending from Cohasset.

What may have started with Lincoln logs back in the day, has now transitioned into real-life timber for those attending the 67th annual North Star Expo.

“You’ve got all the different folks from the timber industry here in one spot,” said Ray Higgins with the Minnesota Timber Producers Association.

From loggers to politicians, and federal agencies, the event encompasses the threshold of the timber industry.

“When you talk about this being the 67th event we’ve had, this event started back in the 1950s as a way to bring vendors together with the logging community,” said Higgins.

Aside from sales, North Star Expo also serves as an educational event for those young and old.

“It’s a great way to have this Future Forest Steward’s event here to tell folks about not only the great forest management that is done here in Minnesota but also about the jobs they can get when they graduate to get into the industry,” said Higgins.

Higgins says there are people from many generations that attend the annual outing.

“It’s a multigenerational deal that we’re very proud of in our state,” said Higgins.

For others in the industry, it’s a chance to show family and friends what their work is all about.

“They think we just go in and lap trees down, and nothing happens after that, but it’s really important for regrowth,” said Wilson.

“We harvest less than one percent of the wood in Minnesota each year,” said Higgins.

Higgins says every year, three times the amount of regrowth is planted after harvesting has wrapped up.

“Healthy forests are a great way to fight climate change. Trees absorb carbon, they store carbon,” said Higgins.

After a cancellation in 2020, event organizers and those passing through are thankful for the chance to get together, talk timber, and keep the industry thriving for years to come.

“We live in northern Minnesota for one reason, right? Because of the beauty and the trees,” said Higgins.

“It’s good to see the new equipment rolling out,” said Wilson.

The two-day event welcomed more than 160 high school students on-site, as well as off-site to witness work happening in a nearby forest.

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