At the Governor's Forestry Economic Summit today, Governor Scott Walker announced a new timber harvesting initiative in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest -- an effort that would help revitalize the state's timber industry and help maintain/create hundreds of jobs.
"The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest contains a valuable resource that, right now, is underutilized -- millions of feet of timber just waiting to be harvested in an environmentally sensitive, sustainable way," said Governor Walker. "This is another way to ensure forestry remains a vibrant part of Wisconsin's economy."
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is awarding $49,000 in funding for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) Stewardship Initiative through which the U.S. Forest Service will be able to utilize income from current timber sales to contract with local businesses to implement a wide range of practices on the forest, including the sale of timber sale and the harvesting of backlogged timber. The effort is expected to spur economic growth in the region and could lead to more jobs in the forest industry and supporting sectors.
The 1.5 million-acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest sprawls over 11 counties in northern Wisconsin. Every year, millions of board feet of harvestable timber in the forest go unharvested. Sustainably harvesting timber helps maintain and improve wildlife habitat, protect water quality, lessen the risk of forest fires, and help ensure the health of the forest.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin's paper industry (pulp, paper, and allied/converting activity) employs more than 50,000 people, and many more jobs are supported by the industry. The state's 1,200 forest product companies account for one of every six manufacturing jobs. Wisconsin leads the nation in total shipment value, reaching $20 billion per year. For more than 50 years, Wisconsin has been the leading paper-making state, surpassing even China and other global markets. The industry is also competitive in the sectors of fine papers, sanitary paper products, millwork, and hardwood veneers.
The 2013-2015 Biennial Budget includes $600,000 for the Wisconsin Forest Practices Study. The study will research how to maintain and grow a sustainable, competitive wood fiber industry.