GRAYLING, Mich. -- Dying, deformed and diseased trees will be key ingredients of particleboard manufactured at the new Arauco panel mill in northern Michigan.

"All of these degraded trees need to be removed to better manage our forests," said Scott Robbins, director of the Michigan Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation and forest policy for the Michigan Forest Products Council (MFPC). "The Arauco mill is going to source these types of trees to make their product. It's always good to get rid of the bad trees so you can grow more good trees."

Randy Keen, wood procurement manager for the Grayling mill, said the current plan is to use 60 percent roundwood and 40 percent clean sawmill chips and other lumber processing byproducts.

"There are not enough sawmills in this area to run a mill this size so that's why we have to use a combination of pulpwood and mill residuals,” he said. “The main species used will be pine, fir and spruce softwoods, but mixed hardwood species, mainly maple and beech, will be used as well. In the case of pulpwood, we'll be using the very top of the tree that typically gets left in the woods after the log material is removed. These are small diameter logs that are not suitable for anything else.

"We believe in the highest and best use of the tree," Keen said. "If there is a saw log in the tree, we want it to go to a sawmill. By using the stuff that is crooked or has a little bit of rot in it to make our particleboard, we help use the whole tree and help clean the forest for the next generation of trees."

Since joining Arauco last year, Keen has been working to develop a dependable supply chain to furnish the $450 million complex, home of North America's largest-capacity, single-line continuous press, with a steady stream of wood material. The vast majority of the feed stock will be purchased from loggers and sawmills within a 70-mile radius of Grayling. Like all other Arauco mills in North America, the Grayling plant will pursue FSC chain-of-custody certification.

Based in Lansing, the MFPC promotes the socio-economic benefits of the state's 20.4 million acres of forestland. The MFPC has lent its full support to helping make the Grayling start-up successful.

Keen credited the MFPC/SFI for helping create "a very strong forest products community where landowners and loggers can get education to manage their forests sustainably. We're growing more trees than we are harvesting."


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