Each winter, logging trucks rumble in and out of Wisconsin forests, harvesting trees that will be converted into paper, furniture, and other wood products.

Rissman: “Winter has traditionally been the core time for timber harvesting.”

Adena Rissman, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, studies the logging industry. She says hard, frozen ground makes it easier to move equipment in and out of forests without getting stuck in the mud or damaging soil and roads.

But winters in Wisconsin are warming.

Rissman: “We can clearly demonstrate over the last 50 years a two- to three-week shortening of the frozen ground season, and that’s just on average. I mean, some years have very little to no frozen ground. If your winter is mud instead of ice then it’s difficult or impossible to get the job done.”

'If your winter is mud instead of ice then it's difficult or impossible to get the job done.' Click To Tweet

Rissman says that to adapt, loggers can invest in equipment better-suited for wet conditions, or compete for high-demand jobs in drier areas.

But these changes cost money. And Rissman says the added expense can be a strain for loggers working in an industry that’s already stressed by global competition and a changing market.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Jobs & Economy