GLTPA's Director's Notes

09/06/2019

Greetings

Having potential simply means that you possess talents and abilities that you are not applying.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I will anyway.  GLTPA has been engaged in several local road issues, and I can assure you they are not getting less in number.  Ninety percent of the time the issues are related to a lack of funding.   The rest of the time however, and after further investigation lack of funding is not always the cause of the problem. 

In this article there are two pictures.  One is of the new traffic circle nearing completion at the junction of Hwy 8 and 47 in Rhinelander WI.  The other shows a town road located south of Wisconsin Rapids WI, where several GLTPA members are having endless issues directly related to extremely poor roads used for hauling forest products from management areas to market.  The sand road depicted is identical to several others in that immediate area.  They are roads that have had either little or no investment applied to them except for the grading or gravel paid for by the loggers who use them for forestry operations.  This example is not limited by location as these exact same conditions exist throughout the Great Lakes Region. 

As for the traffic circle do you see all the plants and detail at the center?  Where did the money come from to pay for this extra expense?  I’m never quite sure what the purpose is either.  I’ve driven in several traffic circles over the years including the first ones I experienced in Anchorage AK. some 10 years ago.  Once they get used to them, the residents drive like they’re racing with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the Daytona 500.  I really hope the drivers are paying attention to where they’re going as opposed to looking at the landscaping.  In addition, many drivers are so busy looking at their phones they don’t have time to notice the landscape anyway.

Unless some wealthy, hometown philanthropist payed the bill to promote his legacy, it’s all taxpayer money being spent on wants, that in my opinion ad nothing for the economy and continue prolonging transportation issues on local roads.  If there’s a study to the contrary, please send it my way and I’d be happy to look at where it originated, who authored it and what benefits are provided.  A request was sent to the department in charge of this traffic circle project, asking for detail on the extra cost for this additional work.   

Taking a guess, let’s say with engineering and material it cost $50,000.00 additional taxpayer dollars.  If breaker run gravel costs $500 a load, that means some local road like the one pictured could have had 100 loads of gravel applied to its surface. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much for one instance but done year after year, the accumulated results will be enormous in terms of land and timber value simply because they become more accessible.  Not to mention local government wouldn’t have to spend as much time debating weight limits on roads that aren’t currently much better than most logging roads.  In many cases I’d argue they’re much worse than a logging road primarily because they’re typically used as recreational roads or logging.  Many towns say they don’t have enough money to even grade these roads once a year and very often there’s nothing to grade if they did try. 

Within the town where the inserted picture was taken, and given the fact the roads are nothing more than sand traps, why are they posted with any type of weight limit?  In some situations, like the one pictured, towns put Class B weight limits on to keep trucks off with the intention to protect them from further deterioration.  This is especially true when the dirt road ties up to a chip sealed dirt road.  More often than not, log trucks must be pushed and pulled to get through these sand roads loaded and empty.  Many loggers have purchased gravel with their own money and drag the roads or grade them to keep things moving.  It’s a very sad situation considering the amount of money a log truck getting four miles per gallon pays in fuel tax alone every year.  To be clear these types of roads don’t have to kept at high standard, but they should be passable without the assistance of machinery to push pull a truck.   

As mentioned, lack of money is often the blame for the conditions of roads such as the sand road.  However, there are times when other causes come into play.  Sometimes it’s a lack of manpower and equipment, sometimes its failing to plan and sometimes conservation easements come in to play.

 Under the easement, areas like the one pictured are seeing massive harvests take place in a very short time frame.  This is to accommodate the conservation agreement by converting Red Pine to Jack Pine and scrub oak for wildlife habitat.  Not all locals are in favor of these agreements.  When a perception exists and residents feel the land no longer adds value to their well-being, elected officials tend to give those areas such a low rating of importance, they’ll never receive a nickels worth of attention.  Whatever the circumstances and wherever the money comes from, this is a serious, complicated issue needing attention.

Until next month, 
Henry  
          

 

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The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA)

Provides proven leadership in the Lake States Forest products industry for over 70 years. GLTPA is a non-profit organization proud to represent members in Michigan and Wisconsin and is committed to leading Forest Products Industry in sustainable forest management.

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