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County earns statewide forest productivity award

County earns statewide forest productivity award County earns statewide forest productivity award

Taylor County was recognized for having the top managed public forest in the state for productivity for the fourth year in a row.

The county’s forestry department received the Milt Reinke Forest Productivity Award from the Wisconsin County Forests Association. The award, named after a former Department of Natural Resources forester recognizes county and state forest management for productivity based on a ratio of harvest to total ownership.

The traveling trophy was established in 1985 and is available to all state and county forests. Forest administrator Jake Walcisak explained they have to follow sustainable harvest levels in order to qualify for the award. Walcisak said the multiple years of recognition reflects well on the county’s longterm management of the forest. He noted that while the county’s numbers have declined in relation to the drop in timber markets due to mill closures in the state, Taylor County is sitting in a better spot than many other forestry departments with its sales receiving multiple bidders.

Walcisak reported on the recognition during the county forestry meeting held Friday morning. Also at the meeting, committee members approved changes to clarify language in the logging project prospectus, approved sending 3 timber sales out for bid and approved closing out three sales totaling $269,310.

Walcisak presented the proposed language change in the prospectus explaining it was due to an issue with a logging contract from the spring sale. The change clarifies that the deposit check or bond must be good in order for the contract to be valid. The deposit/bond is required as part of the bidding process to protect the county if the sale is not completed.

It is common practice for loggers to issue a personal check for the deposit to be later replaced by a bond, according to Walcisak if it is found the check is no good, the contract will be terminated.

Committee members agreed to the prospectus change.

Assistant forest administrator Jordyn Lutz presented committee members with three timber sales to be let out for bid for the fall sale. The county’s management plans have a goal of harvesting 503 acres each year and with these sales totaling 242 acres, the county will be at 490 acres let out for harvest in 2021.

Lutz explained that 131 of the acres will require frozen ground in order to be harvested and that overall it contains predominately northern hardwoods.

The sales are as follows: 4-21 — 91 acres in the town of Rib Lake near Elm Drive. The project has an estimated value of $45,364.

5-21 — 130 acres in the town of Rib Lake close to the Lincoln County Line. It has an estimated value of $43,951.

6-21 — 21 acres in the town of Rib Lake off of Fawn Ave. near the intersection with New Wood Road. The sale has an estimated value of $7,172.

Bids will be due at the forestry committee’s December meeting with the loggers having two years to complete the work.

As the county looks to future projects, they also approved closing out the sales for three existing timber sales.

Sale number 673 to Wiitala-Vozka Logging was closed out with the total of $75,891.25. The estimated value of this sale had been $61,6420.10. The difference was in about 400 tons of volume harvested on the sale.

Sale number 676 to Czarnezki Forest Products had revenue for the county of $106,167.78. Its estimated value had been $100,329. The sale was impacted by harvesting fewer higher-value saw logs compared to having 700 tons of additional pulp logs.

Sale number 692 to Twin Forest Products came in well below the estimated sale amount at $87,252 compared to the estimated value of $117,799. Again the volume of saw logs harvested was lower than the estimated amount while the amount of pulp logs was higher.

“Prices are definitely down,” Walcisak said of the current market for timber. He noted that crews are diversifying where they are taking their logs depending on market conditions. He noted that the mills are favoring some larger contractors over others.

In other business, committee members:

_ Formally approved applying for the sustainable forestry grant. This will help with the reconstruction of 1.1 miles of logging road and if successful will cover about 50% of the estimated $30,000 cost to upgrade the road. The major advantage of the project would be to open up 257 acres to summer harvest which are more sought after by loggers. Current conditions would require ground to be frozen in order to access the sale location. “A big part of that is wet and low,” Walcisak said.

_ Received an update on the regeneration activities for a spruce cut completed last year. The 12-acre area will be replanted as a red pine plantation. This species is sought after for use in telephone poles. Walcisak estimated it would take between $500 to $600 per acre to replant the area, but at today’s numbers would generate about $6,000 per acre when harvested. The area will be planted with saplings by migrant crews next spring. If all goes to plan, it will be due to be harvested in 25 years.

_ Approved extending the sluice gate replacement project on Miller Dam until June because of issues in getting materials to finish the work. The sluice gate helps control water level at the dam and was due to be replaced under a DNR grant this fall. The DNR has granted a one year extension to have the work completed by the end of 2022..

County forestry department staff Karyn Gebert, Jordyn Lutz and Jake Walcisak with the Milt Reinke Forest Productivity Award from the Wisconsin County Forests Association. This is the fourth year in a row the county has won the traveling award.BRIAN WILSON/THE STAR NEWS