Subscribe | E-Editions | River News 75Ę | Super Shopper - FREE | About Us | Contact Us | FREE Classified Ė Items Under $50
The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Flanders Realty Group

home : news : city news
September 24, 2019

Jamie Taylor/River NewsWisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary Preston Cole joined U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Tuesday at the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association to hear from federal, state, county and private stakeholders about what they can do to improve the Good Neighbor Authority program.
Jamie Taylor/River News


Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary Preston Cole joined U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Tuesday at the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association to hear from federal, state, county and private stakeholders about what they can do to improve the Good Neighbor Authority program.
8/8/2019 7:30:00 AM
Baldwin, Cole get feedback on timber program
Stakeholders tell what works, what doesn't

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter


U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole spent over an hour in the Rhinelander area Tuesday listening to representatives from the federal and state government agencies that deal with forests, members of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, and other stakeholders explain what parts of the Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) are working well and what changes they would like to see made to the federal program.

The GNA was created as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. It allows the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements with states so that states may perform forest management activities on national forest lands.

The Wisconsin DNR was one of the first to enter into a GNA agreement with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. As part of the agreement, the DNR is authorized to contract with counties to assist with forest management activities on national forest land, with participating counties reimbursed for all authorized expenses through the state forestry funds.

Baldwin was a major backer of expanded authorities for forest management projects related to the Good Neighbor Authority, setting the stage for more growth in cooperative forest management, which passed Congress in 2018.

Baldwin started Tuesday's meeting by reminding those in attendance that when she moved from the U.S. House of Representatives to the U.S. Senate, she had to learn a lot about the forestry industry in a short period of time.

"Some of you stepped forward to show me around, whether it was a windshield tour or in the Ponsse (Harvesters), which I'll do again any time you want," Baldwin said of a previous visit.

She said the vibrant forestry industry in Wisconsin, compared to other states, has given her bragging rights in the Senate, although there are parts that are "tenuously hanging on."

"We have some issues that I could have some involvement in at the federal level, but obviously we know that with the forest there is national, state, county, tribal, private, etc., so by definition it requires some cooperation and collaboration," Baldwin said.

When the 2014 Farm Bill was being debated in the Senate, she was heavily involved in getting the GNA included, she noted. This is because she spent time working with forestry industry leaders in the Northwoods to learn ways that the federal and state government could work together more cooperatively, she explained.

"The numbers have gone up and up and up, and that's really exciting," she said.

While she is proud of the accomplishments and how far the GNA has taken Wisconsin's forestry industry, there is room for improvement, and that is what brought her to Rhinelander to meet with industry representatives, she added.

"I recognize that there is still challenges and next steps that we need to take," she said, noting that Wisconsin's use of the provisions of the GNA has served as an example for the rest of the country. She said many states have emulated the programs first put into place here.

Cole said he sees his role as coordinating the state and federal efforts. He also agreed that the GNA has given the forestry industry a needed boast.

"The mills weren't always humming in the Northwoods, and from that we had to learn some lessons. The Good Neighbor Authority provides the promise to us that if we act collaboratively with all our partners and the (Great Lakes Timber Professionals) Association and state government, it's a win-win for everyone," Cole said.

Some of the concerns the roundtable group shared with Baldwin and Cole were that some of the revenue sharing provisions of the GNA that were approved in 2018 were one year measures that when they phased out left counties and local school districts feeling abandoned. Another factor that DNR Forestry Director Fed Souba, Jr. pointed out is that while the state controls the revenue generated from the sale of timber harvested from the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, those funds cannot be used on anything other than improvements to national forest lands. When it comes to revenue generated from timber sales on state forest lands, Souba said the DNR has found it is sometimes not in a position to best handle those funds effectively. He said the DNR may have another agency administer the funds, with oversight from the DNR.

During a press availability after the meeting, Baldwin said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has started surveying the extensive damage caused when severe storms struck the area July 19. While there are costs thresholds, she said she hopes that President Donald Trump will issue a disaster declaration.

She said she learned during the meeting that both the forest service and DNR are working to get the downed wood to sawmills as quickly as possible since it loses value the longer it is on the ground.

Prior to her stop in Rhinelander, Baldwin toured the Blackwell Job Corps Center in Laona, which was nearly closed earlier this year until she intervened.

Unlike Job Corp training centers, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, Blackwell is overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture and the forest service, and focuses on youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, she explained.

"There is nothing like meeting with youth whose lives have literally been changing because of this opportunity," she said. "I met a young woman who is getting into the trades and has an apprenticeship lined up who was homeless before getting this opportunity and had no idea what was going to come next."

Baldwin said the skills the youth at Blackwell learn often give them a leg up on getting employment by the forest service or similar agencies.

"Whether it is forest firefighting, the ability to graduate in a trade with a career path, or be able to help on the local volunteer fire department, or be somebody who is able to be deployed to these extreme fire events we have seen in the United States," Baldwin said. "I was very impressed, that expression 'seeing is believing'. I've heard a lot of good things."

Baldwin said she heard from a lot of students when it was announced that the center was closing.

"It was terrifying to them," she said. "So we're glad it's back on track, but we do know there is going to be a thorough reevaluation, and I'm going to be fighting to make sure it is a fair evaluation, and that they are on a level playing field in terms of their peer centers in terms of continuing this programming."

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernewsonline.com.





Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, and meet the comment guidelines (see "Comment Guidelines" at right). There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   


Advanced Search
search sponsored by



Subscription Login
LOGIN | SUBSCRIBE


Today's Circulars
Print-N-Save Coupons
Order photo reprints

Classifieds
Advertising Information

Community Connections
Submit to Newspaper...

Ced Vig's books for sale
Kris Gilbertson's 'I Recall...'

Twitter
Relay for Life

Reader Poll

Do you agree with the School District of Rhinelanderís decision to dismiss football coach Chris Ferge?

Please select one:
Yes
No
I have no opinion.

View Results
Reader Poll

Which of the following best describes your reaction to the Republicans move to curtail the power of Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul?

Please select one:
I have no issue with it. Itís a normal part of todayís politics.
Itís unconscionable, but Iím confidant the courts will overturn the bills.
Iím OK with it as long as both parties are allowed to do it.
I have no opinion on this question.

View Results
Reader Poll

Which City of Rhinelander elected officials should be recalled?

Please select one:
All of them. The mayor and the entire Common Council.
I would recall the council but keep the mayor.
I would recall the mayor but keep the council.
Everyone but alderman Emmer, as he was just appointed.
Frederickson, Sauer, Holt, Rossing and Larson.
Rog, Kirby and Kelly.

View Results
Reader Poll

Which of the following local taxing authorities has been the most fiscally responsible over the last 12 months?

Please select one:
School District of Rhinelander
City of Rhinelander
Oneida County
None of them have been as fiscally responsible as they should be.
They've all been fiscally responsible.
I have no opinion on this question.

View Results









Life
Facebook | All Things | Wisconsin Lottery | The Lakeland Times - affiliate | Winter Road Conditions | Snow/Trail Conditions


The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC
232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361

Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121
Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce

Site Design and Content | Copyright 2019 1up!

Software © 1998-2019 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved