Chassell resident, forester captures national award
CHASSELL — Rexx Janowiak, a forester out of Chassell, has been nationally recognized and awarded the National President’s Award from the Association of Consulting Foresters of America, Inc.
“I’ve been a consulting forester with Green Timber Consulting Foresters since 2003. We’re a private consulting firm that helps private landowners manage their timber property,” Janowiak said.
“The roles and responsibilities that I have there are primarily dealing one on one with private landowners,” Janowiak explained, “working to help educate them on proper forest management from an ecological standpoint, and then also helping them to market their wood that they’re selling to ensure that they can maximize the prices for the wood that they’re selling.”
Janowiak does not only function as a forester, but also as an agent for private landowners.
“I do a lot of work coordinating timber sales, timber sale contracts, and getting loggers lined up, and then overseeing the contracts to make sure that the logger cuts the timber in accordance with the landowners’ goals and objectives,” he said
Janowiak sees to it that all stages of private forest management are done properly.
“We start the process with a handshake and meet the landowner,” he said. “We walk the property and discuss the opportunities and the challenges that their property poses with timber management.”
There are a number of possibilities Janowiak can assist landowners with beyond selling timber.
“We determine their goals and objectives, and based on their goals and objectives and the type of timber they have on their property, we prescribe forest management practices whether it’s a timber sale, a tree planting project, wildlife habitat improvement work, all kinds of different things,” said Janowiak. “Then we facilitate with concrete tree planting contractors or wildlife brush clearing contractors, or loggers to get the work done on the property to meet the landowner’s goals.”
For Janowiak, the mission is to do what’s best for the privately owned ecosystem he is surveying, as well as what is best for the landowner. Timber sales are not always the outcome.
Janowiak’s outstanding work has come from years of experience and dedication.
“I’ve been doing this with Green Timber since 2003. I’ve been a member of the Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF) since 2011. The award that I was presented this year is the ACF’s President’s Award, and it’s essentially given to a high achieving member of the ACF, which is a national organization,” Janowiak said. “The award was presented to me this year primarily for the role I’ve played as the education committee chair with for the ACF. The roles and responsibilities I have there is to facilitate professional educational courses for the ACF membership. We’ve been doing that for a couple years, but it was different with COVID-19.”
Janowiak explained an outdoors specialty like forestry was not immune to COVID-19.
“The big responsibility was pivoting from an in-person platform to a virtual platform,” he said
Janowiak was not on his own in tackling the changes, however.
“Luckily there’s an executive committee that has a few permanent employees,” he said. “They were able to help out with a lot of the technical stuff. As far as lining up presenters, scheduling the courses, that sort of thing, I had a big part in.”
Janowiak was instrumental in ensuring that the ACF could continue national engagement “with their membership during COVID and not have a year, a year and a half window where things just get pushed to the side.”
COVID-19 also affected the timber market, Janowiak noted. While forestry was deemed essential, timber mills faced intermittent shut-downs, in turn affecting the supply and demand for timber. The change in supply and demand shot prices extremely high.
“The market is unlike anything I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve been doing this,” he explained. “I have gotten so many calls lately saying, ‘You know, what is it, 12 bucks to buy a 2×4? My trees must be worth a lot of money right now.'”
There are timber variables to be considered, Janowiak pointed out.
“It depends on the type of trees a landowner has and the type of timber products they can produce,” he said. “Up here, we have hardwood; saw timber and hardwood pulp. The pulp goes into paper, which unfortunately the demand is really low for right now. The demand for hardwood lumber is strong, but I think in part because the demand for hardwood pulp is low, our industry has shifted pretty rapidly; producing more hardwood logs that are now filling up our sawmills.
“I think the mills are doing all right. They got plenty of supply coming in, and then they’re also selling at a high price.”
A native of Free Soil, Michigan, Janowiak was almost made for forestry.
“I’ve always had a love for the outdoors. I grew up hunting and fishing, sports, just anything outside,” he said. “I knew I didn’t want to be behind a desk, and my dad actually, he never had a career in forestry but he went down that path really early on in his life, before I was born and he put me on to professional forestry when I was in high school. I came to Michigan Tech and enrolled in forestry and graduated in 2002. I fell in love with the profession.”