Forest Product Industry
Many people are surprised to learn that Kansas timber harvests contribute to the state’s economy. Though it is a small component of the overall economy (less than 1% of total manufacturing receipts) it is certainly important to the loggers, sawmill operators, and some of secondary manufacturers who process Kansas wood products.
The Kansas Forest Service maintains lists of contact information for over 50 sawmills, 40 timber buyers, and 200 secondary manufacturers (cabinet makers, etc.) who rely on local timber harvests. Kansas timber harvests also benefit private landowners and it is not uncommon for landowners in eastern Kansas to make thousands of dollars from periodic timber sales, especially from the sale of black walnut. Timber harvest can also benefit forest health when it releases desirable understory trees or it can lower the quality of the forest if desirable understory does not exist and there is no proper follow up management.
The USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, periodically surveys Kansas sawmills to determine the size and composition of the wood that is being processed. The last Timber Products Output survey was conducted in 2009. It suggests that in 2009 1.7 million cubic feet or 20.4 million board feet was harvested from Kansas forests, a 49% decrease since the last survey in 2003. This is enough wood to construct an estimated 1,700 homes based on an average of 12,000 board feet of wood per house. However, most Kansas timber is not used for home construction, but ends up as furniture, gun stocks, veneer, pallets, dunnage and other miscellaneous forest products. Black walnut has always driven forest industry in Kansas and accounted for 43% of the timber harvested in 2009. Other important species are bur oak, silver maple, red oak, and ash.
About 55% of the timber harvested in Kansas is processed locally while most of the remaining the remaining volume was sent to mills in Missouri and Iowa like American Walnut Company and Midwest Walnut Company. In 2009 Kansas mills generated 16.6 thousand green tons of sawdust, slabs, and edgings with about 46% used by the mulch industry and 34% for animal bedding, small dimension specialty products, 10% for residential fuel and 2% industrial fuel.