Franklin D. Roosevelt
In Wisconsin, our forests are much more than trees. They are an important part of our economy and central to our way of life. We hike, hunt, camp and ski in them and depend upon them for wildlife habitat, clean air and water, timber and jobs.
Wisconsin’s 16 million acres of forests are the foundation for the pulp, paper, wood products and printing industries, which provide one in every eight manufacturing jobs and are among the leading employers in northern Wisconsin.
Forests help protect water quality in our rivers and lakes and provide habitat for songbirds, wide-ranging mammals like black bears and hundreds of other plant and animal species.
More people than ever before are using Wisconsin’s forests for hiking, camping, hunting and other recreational and tourism activities.
Traditionally, timber companies owned and managed lands for a century or more and were committed to stewardship of their forests. Today, their land is more valuable as real estate than for growing trees, causing the sale of millions of acres across the country, including in Wisconsin.
From 1999 to 2007, enrollment of forestland held by large industrial owners in the Wisconsin Forest Tax Law Program declined by 17 percent.
Oftentimes, new owners subdivide large parcels of industrial forestland and sell them in smaller pieces for development. This puts jobs, recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat – everything we value about our forests – at risk.
Industrial forestland has traditionally been open to a variety of public recreation uses such as hiking, snowmobiling, hunting and fishing. As these lands are sold, new owners may not place the same priority on access for public recreation.
The federal Forest Legacy Program has been instrumental in helping The Nature Conservancy conserve large areas of working forestland in Wisconsin. It provides states with 75 percent of the funding needed to purchase conservation easements from private landowners; the remaining 25 percent comes from private, local or state sources.
Established in 1990 as part of the Farm Bill, the federal Forest Legacy Program works in partnership with states and private landowners to identify and protect ecologically important forests that are threatened by development.
Since 2002, the federal Forest Legacy Program has helped The Nature Conservancy protect more than 80,000 acres of forests in the Baraboo Hills, at Wild Rivers Legacy Forest and Wabikon Waters and Woodlands in northeast Wisconsin and in other parts of the state.
Keeping the federal Forest Legacy Program strong and fully funded is vital to protecting Wisconsin’s forests and the many benefits they provide to all of us.May 09, 2012