Good Neighbor Authority program gives timber and wildlife a boost


06/09/16

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RGS in the News

Original article: OUTDOORS: Timber management, wildlife projects to get boost under Good Neighbor Authority program by Paul A. Smith of the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel was posted May 28, 2016.

Wisconsin recently conducted its first timber sales under the Good Neighbor Authority, an expanded federal-state partnership that could substantially increase forestry management and habitat improvement projects on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The 2014 Farm Bill and the 2014 federal Appropriations Act authorized the Good Neighbor Authority for use across the country.
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"The Good Neighbor Authority provides a great opportunity for the DNR and local natural resource agencies to aid the U.S. Forest Service in the stewardship of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest," said Dan Dessecker of Rice Lake, director of conservation policy for the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society. "This type of collaborative working relationship will help to enhance wildlife habitat development on our federal public lands, and help secure the future for our hunting heritage."

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Read original full article... copied below.

Wisconsin recently conducted its first timber sales under the Good Neighbor Authority, an expanded federal-state partnership that could substantially increase forestry management and habitat improvement projects on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The 2014 Farm Bill and the 2014 federal Appropriations Act authorized the Good Neighbor Authority for use across the country.

It allows the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to enter into cooperative agreements and contracts with states for forest management and watershed restoration services on federal lands.

In Wisconsin, the agreement between the Department of Natural Resources and forest service applies to the 1.5 million-acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The Good Neighbor Authority allows the personnel- and budget-strapped U.S. Forest Service to focus on other projects including fighting wildfires and provides opportunities for other entities to conduct timber harvests according to existing federal plans.

The agreement in Wisconsin, which includes expanded forest management and watershed restoration activities, is expected to boost the economy while improving wildlife habitat and water quality, according to state officials.

The first Good Neighbor project agreement allows the DNR, its partners, counties and consulting foresters to prepare, award and administer 25 million board feet of timber sales in the national forest.

The timber sales come from projects that have already been through the environmental analysis and public involvement process but not yet prepared by Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest staff.

The timber sales will cover portions of the forest in Oconto, Forest, Vilas, Bayfield, Sawyer, Price and Ashland counties.

The first bids for timber sales under the Good Neighbor Authority in Wisconsin were accepted April 20. Thirty companies bid on eight sales; 8.2 million board feet of national forest timber was awarded.

Some of the first sales included timber salvage from areas damaged in a September 2014 windstorm in Ashland, Sawyer and Price counties.

One contract was awarded for $69,080 to FutureWood Corp. of Hayward for a 124-acre project in the Great Divide Ranger District. Known as the Weasel Creek sale, it included a variety of wind-damaged timber such as aspen and northern hardwoods.

Future projects will include not only timber sales but other conservation projects such as wildlife habitat improvement and invasive species management. A second round of timber sales will be advertised and awarded this summer.

Wildlife and conservation groups have generally been supportive of the Good Neighbor Authority. Since most national forests have failed to meet their timber harvest plans, many of the federal properties feature a lack of young trees and associated early successional habitats for wildlife. (emphasis added*, webmaster)

"The Good Neighbor Authority provides a great opportunity for the DNR and local natural resource agencies to aid the U.S. Forest Service in the stewardship of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest," said Dan Dessecker of Rice Lake, director of conservation policy for the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society. "This type of collaborative working relationship will help to enhance wildlife habitat development on our federal public lands, and help secure the future for our hunting heritage."

The federal legislation did not provide funds to implement projects under the Good Neighbor Authority.

However, through the program's authority, states can use revenue generated from timber sales to pay for time and materials associated with the work.

By law, a portion of the income generated must be returned to the U.S. Forest Service to pay for a variety of projects, including reforestation and local aids.

The Wisconsin 2015-'17 state budget provided funding to allow the DNR to conduct work while waiting for timber revenue to be realized.

Per the budget provision, the funding from the state's forestry account will be repaid over time with revenue from sales, according to the DNR.


Paul A. Smith covers outdoors and conservation issues.
 



* The primary reason RGS filed the Petition for Rulemaking with the U.S. Forest Service in May 2015.

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Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America's foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

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