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 Governor's forestry 'tax cut' bad for business

The following article is by Patrick Durkin, a freelance writer for the USA TODAY NETWORK - Wisconsin, Published 2:12 p.m. CT March 23, 2017, Updated 4:07 p.m. CT March 24, 2017.  On March 31, 2017 it was circulated in the Society of American Foresters "The E-Foresters". 

It reads as follows:

If Wisconsin is open for business why is Gov. Walker risking its $6.4 billion industry just so my wife  and I can spend $27 tax savings on one dream date: a stuffed pizza and two Leinie's at Clam Lake's Chippewa Tavern?

Unless you own woodlands or follow conservation news,  you likely haven't heard the guv's proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-19 suggests eliminating Wisconsin's forestry mill tax, which costs the average homeowner $27 annually.  In its place, he proposes funding Wisconsin's  approximately $90 million annual forestry programs with general purpose revenues.

That's a wash for this budget, but here's the problem:  When we debate Wisconsin's next budget in 2019 and all state budgets the follow, our relatively modest forestry programs would compete for GPR funding with huge budget items like education, corrections, healthcare and transportation.  Shudder.  Forestry and its associated fish, wildlife and recreation management wouldn't take a bake seat.  Lawmakers would boot it off the bus.

After all, consider how poorly the current regime manages highway projects, even though long-term budgeting for roads involves far more certainties and less coordination than forestry management.  Forestry planning extends generations and involves weather market forces and tens of thousands of landowners with wills, LLC's and infinite varieties of acreages and tree species.

So before letting Gov. Walker save each of us $27 we'll never miss anyway, let' acknowledge Wisconsin's forests, woodlands and forest-products industry isn't succeeding by accident.  Wisconsin established its forestry mill tax in 1927 to help regrow our forests and woodlands after they were basically clear-cut statewide the previous 50 years.

The mill tax didn't have a sunset provision and Wisconsin's constitution doesn't mandate it be collected.  However, our constitution emphasizes the mil tax's importance by requiring its revenues be spent solely for "the purpose of acquiring, preserving and developing the forests of the state and for other specified forestry purposes."

By killing the mill tax, Gov. Walker would side step the constitutional requirement for funding wise forestry management, and make it a mere budget option.

Hunters and anglers aren't fooled.  They understand the tradition and importance of designating tax revenues for specific purposes, and protecting it from elected pirates.  The Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 and the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 guarantee long-term funding for wildlife and fisheries restoration, respectively, by imposing federal excise taxes  on firearms,  ammos, bows, arrows and fishing tackle. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service distributes those revenues for conservation work to states based on their land mass and hunting/fishing licenses sales.  Wisconsin has benefited mightily from these taxes.  The P-R Act, by itself, has provided Wisconsin $305.77 million in conservation funding since 1939, which ranks sixth among the states.  

Can you imagine the caterwaul if the president proposed killing the P-R and D-J acts and "replacing" their conservation funding with unguaranteed general taxpayer revenues?  No one likes paying up to 11 percent taxes on gear, but hunters and anglers have long supported these programs because they reap the benefits of sustained scientific management.

Wisconsin's forests and their management deserve the same consistent, sustained stewardship that property owners funded the past nine decades.  The governor's idea would subject that funding to the whims and beliefs of politicians who don't know poplar from birch, nor spending from investing.

Sound forestry delivers tangibles benefits.  Data complied by the Department of Natural Resources show forestry's economic and recreational impacts on Wisconsin in 2012 alone:

  • Forestry is the No. 1 employer in seven counties: Iron, Rusk, Forest, Price, Taylor, Lincoln and Trempealeau.
  • Wisconsin is the nation's No. 1 paper-producing state.
  • Wisconsin forestry-products exports to foreign countries generated $2.3 billion.
  • Forestry products shipped to other states generated $14.2 billion.
  • Forestry provided 59,600 Wisconsin jobs in forestry and logging, pulp and paper, and sawmills and wood products.
  • That labor and products generated $22.9 billion in direct outputs.
  • The value-added economic impacts of that labor and products generated $6.4 billion in direct economic impacts.
  • Every forestry job supports 3.8 additional Wisconsin jobs.
  • Every $1 million of forestry output creates $1.3 million of output in other sectors.

One reason for all that economic clout is the size and diversity of Wisconsin's forests, woodlands and individual owners.  Trees cover about 46 percent of Wisconsin, or roughly 16 million of its 34.7 million acres.  Individual landowners account for about 57 percent of that forested land, and nearly two-thirds of them seek DNR forestry advice.  Each year DNR foresters provide technical help to over 8,000 landowners, including 2,000 new contacts.  That support includes expertise in ecology, hydrology and biology; and forest health, economics and products.

Those are partnerships worth applauding.  In fact, 37 percent of Wisconsin's privately owned "family forests" have a DNR-approved forest-management plan.  In contrasts, only 4 percent of their family-forest counterparts in Michigan and 10 percent in Minnesota have such plans with their DNRs.

And make no mistake: We all have a stake in this.  The DNR recently calculated the average Wisconsinite uses about 1,664 pounds of wood annually, or roughly one 18-inch wide log that's 25 feet long.  That big log provides your paper, newsprints, tissue, paper towls, building supplies and more.

Wiscoinsin's forests and woodlands aren't all about logging, pulp mills and wood products, either.  They're home to fish and wildlife, and fun places for recreation, whether it's hunting, fishing, boating, camping, hiking, bicycling, canoeing, showmobiling or riding ATVs.

A 2013 DNR study found that visitors to parks in Northern state forests alone spent about $41 daily ranging from $19 per trip for runner/joggers to over $267 per day for wildlife watching.  In 2014, for example, admissions, camping and trail-pass fess in Northern state parks generated $1.28 million.

No matter how we look at Gov. Walker's proposed "tax cut", it's bad business.  And at $27, it's not even enough to tip Ralph for the Chippewa Tavern's beer and pizza.

 

W.W.O.A.   ALERT

 Nancy Bozak, Administrator for the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association published this Alert on February 20, 2017.

"The DNR Forestry Program has been an important partner with the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association since WWOA's founding in 1979.  Governor Walker's budget proposal to eliminate the Wisconsin Forestry Mill Tax and shift DNR Forestry funding to general purpose revenues (GPR) will jeopardize this stable funding  sources which has supported the DNR Forestry Program for almost 100 years.  WWOA strongly opposes the elimination of the Forestry Mill Tax and encourages those interested in the stewardship of our natural resources to make your views known to your Wisconsin legislatures."

see the "Open Letter to Wisconsin citizens and legislators", attached

 WWOA_FMT_coalition_signers_FINAL.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christine OIOTYChristine Accepting the Award from Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest FoundationChristine Walworth, Forester for the Department of Natural Resources has been named the 2017 North Central Regional Tree Farm Inspector of the Year.  Christine received her award on February 23, 2017 in Greenville, South Carolina at the National Leadership Conference sponsored by the American Free Farm System.  States included in the North Central region, in addition to Wisconsin, include Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and Kentucky.

Christine has been involved in the Tree Farm program since 1977 and has been actively promoting the American Tree Farm program throughout her career.  During this time she has served on various Tree Farm committees, in several different capacities, including District Chair, Wisconsin State Committee Vice-Chair and State Chair.  She completes necessary inspections and re-inspections, and is passionate about her involvement in the Tree Farm program. Christine works very well with landowners and the respect is reciprocal.  She is a "hands-on" forester, willing to meet with landowners on their property to provide advice and share information.

Being a professional forester, Christine encourages sound forest management by adhering to the Tree Farm Standards of Sustainability and ensures that management plans meet all required standards.  She has nominated landowners for Outstanding Tree Famer of the Year.  The nominations were selected as County winners, District winners, Wisconsin State winner and also a Regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. 

Christine is also actively involved in the State forestry community and has conducted outreach to landowners.  She has been involved with the Project Learning Tree Program, working with local teachers, and participated in the Learn about Your Land Series for two years.  She was a speaker several times for workshops concerning the Wisconsin Managed Forest Law Program for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 

Christine conducted a Tree Planting workshop in Monroe County. She participated as a member of the planning committee and worked as a tour guide for the 2015 Wisconsin Annual Tree Farm Field Day and a field guide for the 2016 Wisconsin Annual Tree Farm Field Day.  She was a speaker for a field site on the field tour during the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association annual meeting in Lacrosse County, and has been a presenter for the local County Farm Service's Agency's Conservation Reserve program at various landowner meetings and workshops. Christine was on the planning committee, plus speaker and field guide, for an Oak Management Workshop held in October, 2016 and also assisted with the Black Walnut Council workshop and meeting.  Christine is always eager to help promote good forestry practices, therefore willing to give her time to ensure landowners have the information they need to have to do good things on the land.  Her dedicated involvement earned her this impressive award.

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The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Inc., announced in a new release on September 7, 2016, that the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard has again met the rigorous third-party assessment of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).  PEFC is the umbrella organization that also endorses the Tree Farm System's Standards of Sustainability. 

See the full news release  SFI__PEFC.pdf

 

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Dick & Mary Czaja, of Pittsville Wisconsin, have been named the 2016 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year.  Their well-managed tree farm of 38 acres is located in Wood County and consists of oak/hickory, aspen/birch and other hardwoods.  Their first management plan was written in 1993.  They have owned their tree farm for 25 years.  The nominating forester is Steve Grant, a forester with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources who has been working with  the Czaja's and wrote their first plan.

The Czaja's first management plan identified mature aspen to harvest as well as improvement thinnings needed in the oak and hardwood stands.  Their first timber sale was established in 1994, but they were unable to find a logger to do the harvest.  Dick decided to take on the management of the property himself.  He completed the initial sale (7 acres of aspen clearcut and 12 acres of marked improvement thinning in the hardwood) over a period of several years cutting all designated trees by had and skidding the merchantable wood to the roadside with his ATV.  Over the years, he has modified his ATV with a winch and cabling system to get cut products out of the woods.  Once wood was decked where it could be picked up, Dick arranged with local truckers to see his products to local paper mills and sawmills.  Since this time, Dick has harvested trees on every acre of his property and some of those acres have had more than one management activity.

In 2004 Steve Grant nominated Dick and Mary as Tree Farmer of the Year for Wood County.  They received the award and were also recognized at a local conservation banquet put on by the Wood County Land Conservation Department.  Dick and Mary have also become very involved with the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association (WWOA)  and have been spokespersons for good forestry through WWOA state meetings and by hosting field days at their property.Czajas and TF sign

It's a rare landowner that can handle managing their woodlands on their own.  Steve was a bit skeptical that the harvesting and thinning wunder the Managed Forest Law (MFL) progam could be handled without having professional loggers involved in the process.  He usually gives people a chance when they tell him they want to do the cutting themselves and most of the time they get their fill of being a "logger" after a few weekends of cutting.  Dick and Mary are definitely an exception.  A note found in their file from late 1993 state: "Dick will work on cutting the sale himself.  He has a good knowledge of forestry concepts and harvesting".  Little did Steve know that 25 years later Dick would still be hard at work cutting, skidding and selling timber from his property.

Their management plan calls for managing the woods for the highest output of quality timber and increasing the value of their property through intensive forest management, while providing for the habitat needs of local wildlife.  Harvests are completed using a log skidder that Dick designed himself, pulled behind an ATV.  Using this system, they have harvested over 600 cords of hardwood sawlogs, pulpwood and firewood in the last 25 years.  This small equipment is perfect for accessing their property which is 1/2 mile from one end to the other, using only ATV trails for removing wood.  Their impact on the ground is very small when compared to commercial logging operation.  They have not introduced invasive plant species that can be associated with equipment moving from woods to woods.   Excess debris from the harvests is chipped and used to improve the trail system.  During field days, they have demonstrated how they move logs, chip debris and stack firewood for maximum drying.  They have discussed which hand tools they use and show working examples of clear cuts, shelter wood harvests and selective  cuts.   They also show where they planted understory trees and shrubs, point out wolf trees, crop trees, unusual tree formations,  thinning multi-stem regeneration, naturally pruned trees, trees that could benefit from manual pruning and trees having been selected for removal.  Dick has also made available detailed drawing of his log hauling trailer.

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Dan Peterson Paul Delong

Jeff Mursau Janet BeweleyOn May 26, 2016, Dan Peterson presented the Governor's proclamation celebrating ATFS 75th anniversary at the Wisconsin Council of Forestry meeting.  Many key supporters of forestry were represented for the event: Wisconsin DNR, Great Lakes Timber Producers Assoc., Wisconsin Consulting Foresters Assoc., Wisconsin urban forestry, Wisconsin Woodland Owners Assoc., University of Wisconsin Extension, USDA Forest Service, Wisconsin State Senate, Wisconsin State Assembly, Boy Scouts of America, Society of American Foresters, Nature Conservancy, and forest products industry representatives.

(Top picture: Dan Peterson, Chair of the Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee with Paul DeLong, Wisconsin State Forester.  Second Picture: Dan Peterson with Wisconsin State Assembly Rep. Jeff Mursau and Wisconsin State Senator Janet Bewley.  All members of the Wisconsin Council on Forestry, Strong supporters of good forestry in Wisconsin)

Each year the American Tree Farm System picks Regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year out of submitted nominees from all the States in each of the Four Regions here in the United States.  Wisconsin is in the North Central Region along with Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. The Kann Family Tree Farm was Wisconsin's nominee for 2016.  They were the 2014 Wisconsin Outstanding Tree Farmers.

To read more about the Kann Tree Farm open the "Download" below.

 

Saturday, 28 May 2016 11:52

Spring 2016 Tree Planting

David Czysz Grandson Cody Czysz 2Tanner Czysz planting Tree With Pack Leader 2Scouts Planting Kettlemorine St. Forest 2David Czysz, Tree Farm Inspector and Wisconsin Tree Farm District 17 Chair, pictured here with some of the Greendale, Highland View Elementary School, Cub Scout Pack 509. 

Two of David's Grandchildren attend the City of Greendale's Highland View Elementary school and are also involved with the Highland View Cub Scout Pack.   David's daughter and son-in-law are  active members of the Pack's leadership and for the last two years, David has worked with them and the Pack Cub Master, Tyler Roberts, to do tree planting for an annual Arbor Day activity. 

David, working with a long time college and friend DNR Forester Julie Peltier, also a Tree Farm inspector, arrange the planting of some trees on the Kettle Moraine State Forest north of Milwaukee.  This year they planted oak seedlings on an old farm field, part of Jackson Marsh east of Jackson Wisconsin, recently donated to the DNR from a local farmer.  The goal is to reestablish oak on this property.

Rachel JordanRachel Jordan was inducted into the Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame on September 19, 2015, at the Wisconsin Woodlands Owners annual meeting at Marshfield Wisconsin.  Rachel was nominated by the Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee for this prestigious honor. 

She became an active member in the Wisconsin Tree Farm Program and the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association (WWOA), and soon  a leader in both organizations.  She was the Wisconsin Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year in 1994 and in 1996 she was recognized as the best Tree Farm in the United States by being awarded the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year.  Rachel was the first ever to receive this recognition from Wisconsin.

 

Al Barden Tom AlbrechtAlvin (Al) L. Barden, of Eagle River Wisconsin, was inducted into Wisconsin's Forestry Hall of Fame in September 2015, at the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association (WWOA) Annual Convention held in Marshfield, Wisconsin.  Barden was nominated for the Hall of Fame by the Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee, which previously named him as a recipient of this Leadership Award for his service as an administrator and committee chair.  Al remains a friend of the Committee and continues to be an active member promoting sustainable forestry.

Barden received his B.S. Degree in Forest Management from Iowa State University in 1955 and a M.S. Degree in Natural Resources Administration from Colorado State University in 1970.  He served in the Air Force Reserves reaching the rank of Lt. Colonel. 

The Wisconsin Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year for 2015 is Carl and Doris Mueller.  They manage a 120 acres Tree Farm in Trempealeau County.  Eighty acres are in the Wisconsin Managed Forest Law (MFL) Independently Managed Group (IMG) Certified under the American Forest Foundation Standards of Sustainability.  They also have forty acres under the Wisconsin Forest Crop Law (FCL).

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