Our National Forests in Michigan and Wisconsin have been a source of raw forest products and recreation since the early 1930’s.
The Nicolet Chequamegon National Forest was established in 1933 while the Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests were established in 1931. Speaking for the Nicolet Chequamegon in Wisconsin, at its beginning, many European immigrants came to northern Wisconsin to live and farm. In the 1920’s and 1930’s these individuals fell on hard economic times and could not afford the property taxes. Those that could not afford the property taxes then had to forfeit their land to the county governments. The county then sold the land to the Federal government. Most of those lands were cut over, burned and farmed out. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps was a program that employed people to plant trees to help restore the forest.
Fast forward to recent times we have had Roadless Initiatives during the Clinton Administration in 2001. Then in 2005, the Bush Administration repealed the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The rule had prohibited logging, road construction and other development on over 58 million acres of roadless areas in National Forests including ours in our states of Michigan and Wisconsin.
Today the Federal Forest Resource Coalition is an organization that the GLTPA partners with to promote sustainable management on our National Forests. The American Loggers Council (ALC) is also your National Association of which I am the Midwestern Region Delegate and Wisconsin’s representative. Brian Nelson is your representative for Michigan. The ALC works on National Forest and other federal issues with logging. Over the years we have seen reductions in the volume of timber cut as various presidential administrations have tried to implement their agendas. Region 9 of the USDA Forest Service has been fortunate compared to other regions in the US regarding timber production. Nationally, the Forest Service has historically fallen woefully short of meeting its allowable sustainable harvest levels which have resulted in huge forest fire seasons in the west. We have been fairly successful keeping harvest levels at least adequate in Region 9.
In 2015, the Wisconsin DNR and US Forest Service entered into the Good Neighbor Authority which authorized the DNR to perform forest management activities on the Nicolet Chequamegon National Forest. The collaboration between Federal, State and County forest managers has become a great success story in Wisconsin and Michigan. To see the Federal Government give up direct authority on its federal timber program has been unprecedented and high praise should be given to Forest Service offices and their employees for helping facilitate the program along with GLTPA and locally the Federal Sustainable Forest Committee in Forest County Wisconsin.
Recent years, specifically two years ago in July, there was a huge weather event which weather officials called a microburst. Approximately 54,000 acres of National Forest were affected with tremendous timber damage in Wisconsin. As a logging contractor that has been working on private and now National Forest land, I can say that Forest Service employees doing on ground work in the Lakewood and Laona Districts have done and continue to do a great job getting salvage sales prepared and ready for sale. They have also done a great job making and implementing decisions on the ground to help keep the salvage efforts moving quickly. From road packages for the sale areas to the actual harvest operations, I have personally experienced a great willingness from the USFS officials making decisions with contractors like me to get the sales done in a timely fashion. We have seen a lot of changes on our National Forests and their programs, but here at home we have some real positives with interested parties like GLTPA and the American Loggers Council and your direct representatives.
Until next month