Another U.S. Senator was in the Northwoods Tuesday to talk about forestry issues.
Senator Ron Johnson toured Forest County and National forest land with representatives from the Great lakes Timber Professionals.
Johnson says opportunities for harvesting timber in the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest are being wasted. He says he plans to put together some numbers estimating what kind of revenue that forest could generate, and says changes should be made in the way national forest management is funded.
“Having the federal government in their national forest use the same model that counties use to manage their forests, which is really open up that forest to bidding, manage them properly, and use that revenue for the actual management of the forest – it should self-finance.”
Right now most timber sales from the Chequamegon Nicolet go to the federal treasury, not to funding further management operations.
A 10-year forest plan put Chequamegon Nicolet harvest goals at 131 million board feet per year, but only about half that amount is actually being cut. Sawmills and wood products manufacturers say there isn’t enough wood to meet the demand.
But Karl Welch, Timber Program Manager for the Chequamegon Nicolet says there aren’t enough resources available to allow the forest service to meet those forest plan goals.
“There’s factors associated with that, and some of those factors include our environmental analysis costs have increased over time, and they’re taking a bigger portion of our budget, in order to meet the rigors of the laws.”
Welch says harvest goals for each annual budget appropriation are being met.
Welch also says the Chequamegon Nicolet is in the top five national forests in terms of total timber volume output.
Senator Tammy Baldwin was also in Laona and Crandon earlier this week, where she voiced support for timber harvests that would meet forest plan goals.