Ever changing weather affecting Arkansas timber industry

GURDON (KATV) - Arkansas's ever-changing weather is creating difficulties for the state's timber industry. The extreme cold mixed with milder temperatures is lowering the output of wood.

The lumber numbers are down, much due to the fact many loggers just pack up for the winter to return to warmer temperatures. But for those out there the recent cold snap has provided for a plethora of problems for their logging equipment.

The Natural State ranks number one in the south when it comes to lumber production. The town of Gurdon knows that well - Georgia Pacific Wood Products is the town's largest employer. Logging trucks come in and out of the mill's compound, but getting that wood onto those trucks and out of the woods hasn't been easy.

"In the morning the moisture will harden and freeze and it will feel like you're just running over some really rough rocks," said Kurt Hill, trudging through the mud at his Caddo Valley logging site.

Hill is a manager at Hunter Wasson Timber Services and says it's that mud that's creating one of the logging problems. Once the ground thaws again the mud returns, making moving heavy lumber trucks no simple task.

"In cooler weather it dries much more slowly, so it stays wet longer and you get stuck," said Hill.

Stuck trucks only contribute to the damage trucks can do to the foresting land while dragging through the mud.

But forget moving the trucks - starting the trucks is a feat in and of itself. The other day it took Hill's team nearly four hours to get their equipment going.

"Diesel takes heat and pressure to combust," commented Hill on their diesel powered equipment. "We had the pressure, just not the heat."

And when the trucks are up and going it's frozen timber that can create yet another problem. Normally loggers just drop the trees into piles, but Hill said, "now you do the same thing and you notice it splintering at the butt when you cut it and then when it hits the ground it breaks into three pieces."

Splintered timber equals less money for that same piece of wood. Many loggers make their money off of how much they produce in a day. Lucky for them however, due to a lack of timber to begin with, the mills are paying extra due to supply and demand.