Marinette County has cut a stellar record when it comes to the forestry industry. Its record was even more impressive when area paper mills — Marinette, Menominee and Oconto counties — were in the demand for supplies of raw forest products to keep the mills humming.

According to the National Alliance of Forest Owners earlier this year, employment in Wisconsin’s forestry industry sector grew by nearly 5% from 2010 to 2016, totaling 174,848. Wisconsin’s timber sales increased by nearly 10% to $21.6 billion in 2016, the most recent year that comprehensive data is available, according to an Associated Press story. That’s a lot of timber falling in our state’s forests.

Wisconsin paced the Midwest in both fields in 2016, as well as timberland acres, according to the study.

Growth in the state’s timber industry comes despite the closure of paper mills across Wisconsin in the last decade, according to Henry Schienebeck, director of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and chairman of the Wisconsin Council on Forestry. He credited that in part to the production of more raw timber, the high-quality wood that’s used in hardwood flooring and furniture.

“Some of our forests are getting a little older,” Schienebeck said. “What that means is we’ve actually got more raw timber that’s growing.”

The majority of Wisconsin’s 16.5 million timberland acres are privately owned, according to the study. Public lands account for about 4.7 million acres, while companies and individuals own the remaining 11.8 million.

Forestry leaders say creating healthy economies around forestry also protects forest lands, because it becomes less likely that they’re sold or developed as farmland, among other uses.

The forestry industry doesn’t get the credit it deserves when it comes to boosting America’s economy, employment rosters and protecting our timberland for the raw materials it provides.

Even though neighboring Menominee County may not be a part of the Wisconsin network, it, too, has forged an impressive record in providing raw materials for the forestry industry, which includes manufacturers in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan who need the raw materials to keep their operations humming.

Thumbs up to the forestry industry for its enormous contributions to our economy, our employment and our day-to-day needs.