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DNR Board OKs Large Conservation Easement In Sawyer County

DNR Board OKs Large Conservation Easement In Sawyer County | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Plans by the state to spend $7.2 million on a large conservation easement in northwest Wisconsin have won approval by the Natural Resources Board. The fast-moving proposal announced less than two weeks ago by Gov. Scott Walker would guarantee public hunting, fishing and trapping rights on nearly 21,000 acres of privately-owned land near Hayward. The landowner could do sustainable timber harvesting.

 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is calling the project the Lake of the Pines Conservation Easement. DNR Real Estate Section Chief James Lemke said people would be able to drive on more than 20 miles of private roads. "The abilities to create a perpetual access rights for the public to drive licensed vehicles is very important for the usability of the property," Lemke told the board during a meeting Wednesday.Lemke said a $515,000 endowment fund — part of the purchase price — will help maintain the roads.

 

Birchwood resident Linda Zillmer urged the Board to slow down on the proposal. But Board Chairman Terry Hilgenberg said the DNR did a very careful review. "Now, are there some skeletons out there, yet? Oh, probably. Nothing's 100 percent. But, I think we're about as close as we're going to get, on this one," Hilgenberg told the board. 

 

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation testified in favor of the easement. But Federation leader George Meyer reminded the board the agency's stewardship program will end in two years, unless state lawmakers renew it.

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Judge Invalidates Western Wisconsin Sand Mine Permits For Meteor Timber

Judge Invalidates Western Wisconsin Sand Mine Permits For Meteor Timber | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A judge says the state Department of Natural Resources improperly granted Meteor Timber, a Georgia-based company, permits to destroy western Wisconsin wetlands to make way for a sand processing plant.

 

Administrative Law Judge Eric Defort ruled Friday that the DNR improperly granted the permits because the agency lacked enough information to determine the environmental impact, Meteor's mitigation plan wasn't adequate and the project would cause significant adverse impacts.

 

But Chris Mathis, a project manager for Meteor Timber, says the firm disagrees with the judge's decision to invalidate the company's wetland permits.

 

"While we respect the decision handed down by Administrative Law Judge Defort today, we at Meteor Timber disagree and do believe that the economic and environmental benefits of this project merit further discussion and thought," Mathis wrote in an email to WPR. "We understand that this process is a lengthy one, with much deliberation, and we will continue to work toward ensuring that this project can benefit the local communities that will be impacted."

 

Meteor Timber wants to build a $70 million plant to process industrial sand in Monroe County. The plans call for destroying 16 acres of wetlands. The DNR awarded the company permits last year, drawing a challenge from Clean Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation.

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How a small Wisconsin town is making some hedge funds very nervous

How a small Wisconsin town is making some hedge funds very nervous | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

After a century-old paper mill in Brokaw, Wisconsin, closed a few years ago, the town of 250 residents effectively went bankrupt.

Brokaw will soon be dissolved by its two neighboring towns. But it has found a new way to live on: through a federal bill named for it that would restrict Wall Street's activist hedge-funds, the type of investing firms that were blamed for the town's demise.

 

The Brokaw Act would require more disclosures by these hedge funds, which have been accused of promoting short-term gains over the long-term health of the companies they battle for change. Its sponsor, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), plans to reintroduce the bill when the Senate is back in session after earlier attempts last year stalled.
***
While activist investors were involved with the mill's parent company, their actual culpability for what happened in Brokaw is disputed.

 

It all started in 2011, when Starboard Value, the New York hedge fund led by Jeff Smith, took a stake in shares of Wausau Paper, the Mosinee, Wisconsin-based company that owned a slew of mills, including the one in Brokaw.

***

By December of that year, Wausau's board of directors approved a plan to permanently close the Brokaw mill, eliminating 450 hourly and salaried jobs.

 

Those who defend the hedge funds say it was management at Wausau Paper, and not the investors, who were responsible for closing the mill. The same story had been happening all over during that time period as the American paper industry began facing greater competition from China and a more-environmentally-conscious consumer that was turning more frequently to computers and printing out fewer documents on paper.

 

Wausau Paper already had shut down a sulfite pulp mill in Brokaw in 2005, and two years later, closed its Groveton, New Hampshire mill, followed by the closure of one in Appleton, Wisconsin. In 2009, it closed its Livermore Falls, Maine, mill.
***
"Hedge-fund activists played essentially no role in the closure of the Brokaw mill," wrote Alon Brav of Duke University in a 2016 paper co-written with several other academics, who studied the case. "To the contrary, the paper company's incumbent management closed the mill — just the latest in a series of management's mill closures — amid an industry-wide decline that made the mill uneconomic to keep open."

 

But management believes the story of Brokaw would be much different had Starboard never taken a stake in Wausau Paper. Hank Newell was the chief executive of the paper company during much of Starboard's involvement.

 

Newell said that Wausau had a buyer lined up to acquire the Brokaw mill, but they balked after Starboard started publicly criticizing the company. A major customer as well as the company's lender also turned away amid the public battles with the hedge fund.

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Wisconsin: Logging operations deal with season of soggy weather

Wisconsin: Logging operations deal with season of soggy weather | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Many crews in the logging industry are hard at work, trying to make up for lost time.

Recent rain-free days are providing a break from soggy conditions that bogged down many operations in parts of the Northwoods.

Deep in the woods of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Matt Huempfner says four-wheel drive is the only way to go.

"The worst is yet to come I think," he said.

Huempfner is a forester with Wild Rivers Forestry. He says treads are needed so a 50,000-pound tractor called a forwarder can move around a job site near Lakewood.

But he says getting the timber out of the woods is a different story.

"The trucks come in weighing about 98,000 pounds on their way out. So, it's really it's pretty hard for them to get in and out of jobs where if you have any type of moisture in the ground," said Huempfner.

Huemphfner says logs are stacked up wherever there is room.

"The longer our product our wood sits in a pile, the longer it's drying out. And we get paid by the weight, so it really affects our bottom dollar that way," he said.

And it's more than just Northeast Wisconsin. Timber experts say the soggy conditions stretch across much of the Northwoods, affecting the bottom line of many logging operations in the region.

"I've actually checked with a few and I'm hearing 25-30 percent, they're down in their gross income from a year ago even," said Henry Schienebeck, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association Executive Director.
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Factors that influence working forest conservation and parcelization

Factors that influence working forest conservation and parcelization | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Highlights

  • 7.8% of industrial forests sold to public and 19.6% put in conservation easements.
  • Over one-fifth of properties withdrawn from the state tax program was parcelized.
  • Public purchases were more similar to withdrawals than conservation easements.
  • Tax program term elapsed was a statistically significant deterrent for withdrawal.
  • Public policies and land characteristics shape ownership and conservation outcomes.


Abstract
Ownership of private forestland is changing rapidly, especially in areas owned by industrial forest product companies. Following divestment by industrial owners, forested lands are increasingly likely to move from intensive timber production to subdivision of the land, development and other private uses, or alternatively to conservation under public tenure. This research follows a unique dataset of forestland properties previously owned by industrial and corporate owners in Wisconsin from 1999 to 2014. A multinomial logistic regression showed that divested lands were more likely to be publicly purchased outright if they were adjacent to water, adjacent to public land, not adjacent to roads, and had higher housing value, while in contrast the predictors of conservation easement acquisition were location in large blocks outside of zoned townships. Properties were more likely to be parcelized if they were adjacent to a paved road, adjacent to water, smaller, in a zoned township, and had fewer years remaining in their tax program enrollment. In an era of rapid industrial land divestment, these findings indicate an important role played by public policies, including preferential tax programs and funds for land and conservation easement acquisition, in shaping whether private forestland is parcelized, conserved under private ownership, or publicly acquired.

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Western Wisconsin timber economy may be headed for downturn

Western Wisconsin timber economy may be headed for downturn | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

WASHBURN COUNTY - The local timber economy is heading toward what some in the industry see as a downturn. “We will be going through some pains here in the forest products industry, at least for the next year or two,” said Max Ericson, who is a local logger and operator of the Springbrook Wood Yard in the Town of Springbrook. The problem comes from a combination of issues, one being that the price per cord of wood that loggers are receiving is down, as is the ability to sell their harvest.

 

Despite the loss of profit, Ericson said that is not stopping loggers. “We all still have to keep working. When you’ve got all this machinery, you can’t stop the wheels from turning,” said Ericson, who is also the president of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association.

 

The overhead to run a timber harvesting operation can run in the millions of dollars with equipment and transportation costs. “The reality is that these guys cannot afford to let the equipment sit idle. They have payments and need to maintain cash flow. Scaling back on harvesting is a means to match production to current demand,” said Washburn County forest administrator Mike Peterson. Peterson manages 148,000 acres of public land within the Washburn County forest for timber production and public recreation. Peterson added that loggers under contract in Washburn County face revocation, bond retention or stumpage increases if they do not meet the contract deadlines for harvest.
***
Peterson said this is in part because loggers have not been able to harvest due to wet conditions for the last two summers. Combined with a wet fall this year, getting into the woods to harvest has been impossible. To compound matters there are simply not enough loggers in the state to complete all of the sales under contract during the short winter logging period. In addition, mills are not buying as much as before – and they’re paying a lower rate. This has Ericson thinking the situation could put some loggers out of business.
***
As operator of the Springbrook Wood Yard, Ericson used to purchase wood from other loggers to fill the needs of mills but now he can fill those needs with his own harvest and still have excess. “And that’s for hardwoods, the pine markets are worse. They are pretty near non-existent,” he noted. More than just the timber harvesters could feel the effects of the downturn though. Ericson said that this could also affect county bottom lines, like Washburn County, that utilize timber revenues as a funding source.
***
He also questioned the continued viability of the higher value timber market found in Washburn County. Sustainable? “The county forest system has seen record prices and revenue streams over the last 10 or more years and while this has been advantageous to county functions, I question whether this is sustainable,” said Peterson. He said that strong competition for timber sales over the last decade has driven standing wood prices higher, but if the prices go too high for wood-consuming industries to operate, “they will likely source their fiber from other, cheaper locations.”

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Wisconsin state forests to see more cutting

Wisconsin state forests to see more cutting | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Wisconsin officials are earmarking nearly 40,000 more acres of state forestland for intensive logging — a move pushed by the Legislature to provide a fresh source of timber to the forest products industry.

But opponents, which see the change as a major shift in the management of public forests, question the need for such action and are worried about the potential ecological harm that could come from more logging.

They also criticized lawmakers for limiting public involvement in the process, including the role of the citizen-led Natural Resources Board to review changes in how timber is harvested in state forests.

In 2015, lawmakers working on the state budget directed the DNR to increase acreage eligible for the most intensive timber cutting to 75% of northern state forests. That’s up from the current level of 66%.

The change means that  about 39,000 acres in newly reclassified timber stands will be subject to a generally more aggressive cycle of logging. Some forestland will be cut starting next year; trees on other parcels will be scheduled for harvest in future years.

Timber sales from all DNR-managed land in 2014 and 2015 totaled more than $11 million in each year, DNR figures show.
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Research Initiative Offers Insights Into State Of Wisconsin's Forest Products Industry

Research Initiative Offers Insights Into State Of Wisconsin's Forest Products Industry | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A multifaceted research initiative looking at Wisconsin's forests and the industry they support is starting to bear fruit. This spring, researchers have been presenting their findings from various projects that are part of the Wisconsin Forest Practices Study — the result of $600,000 in funding that lawmakers set aside in 2013 to research how policies and regulations are affecting the state's multi-billion-dollar forest products industry in Wisconsin.

 

Steve Prisley, director of the Center for Natural Resources Assessment and Decision Support at Virginia Tech University, conducted an overall assessment of the state’s forest products industry. He said the results show Wisconsin is growing more trees than are being harvested. "There is something like 3.2 million tons more being grown every year than is being removed for harvest. That’s very positive," said Prisley. However, he said there are some imbalances. Notably, there’s more pulpwood being harvested than is being grown.
***
Forrest Gibeault also conducted research as part of the study. His work focused on how wood supply-chain costs in the state compare to other regions of the U.S. Gibeault, an analysis and investment operations director with Steigerwaldt Land Services of Tomahawk, said the state is most competitive with aspen when compared to the Northeast. But, he said harvesting and freight costs are higher in Great Lakes states than in the southern U.S.
***
Wisconsin mills and loggers are also paying more money to buy timber stands than those in other regions. One reason is that whole-tree harvesting is more common in the south unlike Wisconsin’s shortwood system, which cuts logs into smaller pieces before hauling them to mills. Gibeault said the difference in harvesting methods makes the south more efficient and cost-effective.
***
The research, which was presented to the Wisconsin Council on Forestry, will now be evaluated by subcommittees. Council Chair Henry Schienebeck hopes the committees will develop recommendations for the Legislature by July.

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CNNF-DNR Partner To Manage Timber In National Forest

CNNF-DNR Partner To Manage Timber In National Forest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The DNR and the U.S. Forest Service have announced an agreement where the state and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest will partner on forest management within the 1.5 million acres of the state's only national forest. It's under the 2014 Farm Bill called Good Neighbor authority.

Under the agreement, the amount of timber offered for harvest that's in an approved plan will increase 25 percent to more than 100 million board feet in 2016.
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Scott Walker's budget restricts DNR review of timber cutting

Scott Walker's budget restricts DNR review of timber cutting | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Tens of thousands of acres of tax-subsidized private forest would be logged without state forester oversight of cutting plans under a proposal in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget.

The budget provision was requested by loggers who say state regulation is costly and unneeded because private foresters usually design cutting operations that adequately protect forests, streams and wildlife.

The change would affect the 3.2 million acres of privately held land — one-third of it open for public recreation — that owners have enrolled in the state managed forest program in exchange for lower property taxes.
The 1986 managed forest law requires owners to file 25-to-50-year plans specifying scheduled timber sales and management practices designed to ensure a sustainable supply of wood for industry as well as preservation of wildlife habitat, water quality and certain recreational opportunities.
Walker’s plan would provide owners with automatic state approval when they file timber-cutting notices if they hire a contractor who participates in the Department of Natural Resources cooperating forester program, which mandates minimum educational requirements and an agreement to use sound practices.
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Price County WI timber bid opening surpasses $1 million

Price County WI timber bid opening surpasses $1 million | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Total timber sales bids opened for fall of 2014 at the most recent Price County Forestry and Parks/Tourism Committee meeting December 9 came in at $1,115,154.40 – significantly exceeding the figure normally seen in a single bid opening, according to Forestry and Parks Administrator Eric Holm. Holm explained that the county usually sells around $1 million worth of timber for the whole year, which includes a spring and fall bid opening.
***
The initial contract for the most recent round of timber sales bids expires April 30, 2016, Holm said, noting that the contracts will usually be extended once or twice if need be. A total of 1,308 acres are included in land to be harvested as part of timber sales bids for fall 2014, according to Holm.


As far as active harvests go, conditions in the woods “aren’t very good so far this year” for logging activities, Holm explained. Early snow served to insulate the ground with recent warm conditions and rain further setting back the seasonal freeze.
***
The winter logging season typically wraps up by March 15, Holm said.

Sam Radcliffe's insight:

About $850 per acre on the acres to be harvested.

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Land to be sold by Wisconsin DNR

Land to be sold by Wisconsin DNR | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Department of Natural Resources got the green light to begin selling 10,000 acres of state land. The Natural Resources Board on Wednesday approved the land sales, to take place by June 30, 2017.

***

The 10,000 acres available for sale represent less than 1 percent of the DNR’s more than 1.8 million acres, including easements. Proceeds from the land sold will be used to repay outstanding debt related to the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program.


“The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has done wonders for our state’s natural resources — this next step will ensure that it continues to create new recreational opportunities throughout the state,” DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said in a statement.

***

The program has added more than 600,000 acres for public recreation.

Parcels with legal access from a public road will be offered for sale to local or tribal governments first and later to the general public through a competitive bidding process.

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Wisconsin: Timber bid opening exceeds $800,000, "The markets are wide open"

Wisconsin: Timber bid opening exceeds $800,000, "The markets are wide open" | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

It's rare when the twice-a-year timber sale bid openings make headlines but it's equally rare that a bid opening yields in excess of $800,000 in sales.


"The markets are wide open," an awed Jake Nichols, Burnett County Forestry administrator, said of the prices following the hour-long bid opening.


The bid opening included the sale of 1,260 acres and 21 different contractors bid on the 13 tracts.


"We haven't had that many bidders in a long time," Nichols said.

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Meteor Timber Appealing Court Decision That Struck Down Wetland Permit

Meteor Timber Appealing Court Decision That Struck Down Wetland Permit | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Atlanta-based Meteor Timber is appealing a judge’s decision to invalidate wetland permits it was issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to fill 16 acres of wetland in Monroe County as part of a proposed $75 million frac sand processing and rail loading facility.

 

On Friday, May 4, Administrative Law Judge Eric Defort ruled the DNR improperly granted Meteor Timber permits because the agency lacked enough information to determine the environmental impact of the project and whether a plan to alleviate wetland impacts would work.

 

In a statement, Meteor Timber project manager Chris Mathis said the company has proved to the DNR that it’s application was thorough and made clear the project would provide a net environmental benefit for the state.

 

"Today, we filed an appeal of the administrative law judge determination on our Department of Natural Resources permit," said Mathis. "We believe our permit application and the 30-plus months of continued work with the department clearly demonstrate the permit was comprehensive and should allow the project to go forward. We look forward to a robust discussion and intend to follow the process to its rightful conclusion that will allow this $75 million project to proceed, and the local community to flourish."

 

Another document sent to WPR by Meteor Timber mentioned the DNR has "the sole discretion to concur with the administrative law judge or reverse the decision if the agency believes there are significant factual or legal errors. Meteor Timber believes there are errors which merit a second review by the state agency with decades of experience in environmental permitting."

 

Meteor said a number of Defort’s findings in his decision are contradicted by conditions included in the permit issued by the DNR. Also, the document criticized the court for making its decision without "acknowledging the testimony of the department’s five witnesses (or any of the Meteor witnesses), but based solely on the testimony of a former department staffer who helped to draft the conditions of the permit she later testified against."

 

Finally, Meteor was critical of the court’s finding that the DNR was not allowed to issue an amended wetland permit for the company. The DNR initially approved Meteor’s wetland permit in May 2017. An amended permit was issued by the agency in August of that year.

 

Meteor’s statement said the DNR has amended more than a dozen wetland permits in past examples. "We believe the aforementioned samples are illustrative of a number of errors which cannot be allowed to stand for both this project and for Wisconsin as a whole."

 

In response to Meteor's appeal, Clean Wisconsin's communication manager Jon Drewsen said the organization is "looking at the petition for review and do not have a comment at this time."

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Oneida County's timber market is entering a downturn

Oneida County's timber market is entering a downturn | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Last week, assistant forest director Paul Fiene briefed the county forestry committee on problems with the area logging market.

Due to recent historical success - 2017 was one of the highest years in recent memory for timber stumpage - a glut of wood is available for mills in the region to take in.

As a result, many are now shutting their doors to process what they have, meaning companies can not sell what they were initially approved to cut and the county may not generate similar revenue levels as before.

"I talked with the three main mills our contractors take wood to. They've said they're at or near physical capacity of where they can store wood," Fiene told the committee. "Normally, this is their peak inventory time, but with the very good conditions we've had this year for logging, they've kept taking in more wood probably beyond their normal volumes. One of the log mills we deal with (Northwest Hardwoods) ... seems to think this downturn is very similar to what we experienced in 2008."

According to a document Fiene gave to the committee which summarizes his conversations with various mills, the current slump is indeed similar to what occurred a decade ago.

Officials from Northwest Hardwoods and mills in Tomahawk and Rothschild expressed hope in the document for things turning around by the third quarter of the year (July, August and September), but the form then noted a dry spring or summer would prolong decreased revenue for Oneida County. In spite of this estimation, Fiene feels the area will be in good shape due to the slump being usually a slow time in stronger markets.

"This downturn is happening right in our traditional low period because normally after March, there's been a few years where I think we had (nothing in the summer)," he said. "So, this is happening at our traditional down period. If we're lucky we will follow this with an upturn towards the end of the year. We could lose some revenue, but no one can predict what is going to happen."
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Hancock Timber Resource Group Acquires Approximately 79,000 Acres of Timberlands in Wisconsin

Hancock Timber Resource Group Acquires Approximately 79,000 Acres of Timberlands in Wisconsin | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The Hancock Timber Resource Group has completed the acquisition of 78,986 acres of timberlands in northwestern Wisconsin, Hancock Timber Resource Group President Brent Keefer said today.

The 78,986 acres of timberlands, located in Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas and Washburn counties, were acquired from investment funds managed by The Lyme Timber Company, a private timberland investment management organization based in Hanover, New Hampshire.

"These assets are attractively stocked with primarily red pine, jack pine and hardwood forest types. They will supply a diverse customer base who manufacture utility poles, lumber, studs and pulp and paper products. We are very pleased to add these high quality productive timberlands to our clients' portfolios," Mr. Keefer said. "We also look forward to managing these timberlands which have been protected under conservation easements. This type of management is consistent with our long standing stewardship ethic."

More than 90% of the timberlands are managed under working forest conservation easements purchased from Lyme Timber by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. These easements were acquired as part of the Brule-St. Croix Forest Legacy Project that ensured the lands will be available for forest management and timber production to serve the wood products industry, and will remain open to the public for nature-based recreational activities.
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Heavy rains slow Wisconsin timber harvest

Heavy rains slow Wisconsin timber harvest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Wisconsin's logging industry is struggling to harvest wood because of the wet summer, leaving loggers with less money while they wait for work during better weather.

The last three months are among the five wettest on record in the state, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information, Wisconsin Public Radio (http://bit.ly/2tj3ZPL ) reported.

Loggers are moving equipment around to look for drier places where they can work, said Henry Schienebeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association.

"When it rains, it doesn't just rain enough to settle the dust," he said. "We're getting an inch, inch-and-a-half, 2 inches at a time. That's really having an impact right now on the wood inventories."

Road closures or roads that are too wet to withstand heavy loads also slow down the harvesting process, he said.

"A lot of our members are self-employed, but there's also a lot of employees out there that depend on a weekly or biweekly income coming in," he said. "When it gets to the point where it's so wet that they can't get to work every day, that really disrupts that flow of not only the product, but also the income that those folks are able to bring in on a weekly basis."

Schienebeck expects that loggers should be able to find a steady stream of work in the fall when the state sees drier weather.
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State Signs Off On Wetlands Loss For $65M Sand Processing Project

State Signs Off On Wetlands Loss For $65M Sand Processing Project | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The state has granted permission for a timber company to fill wetlands as part of a $65 million sand processing plant and rail spur in Monroe County.

 

Company officials say the project will pair economic development with environmental preservation. However, environmental advocates say the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources may have contradicted state law when it granted the company a wetland permit.

 

The DNR approved the permit last week for Meteor Timber’s plans to fill about 16 acres of wetlands as part of the project. Meteor Timber is proposing the multi-million dollar project as part of plans to process sand from a nearby mine, which would then be shipped to customers in North Dakota and Texas.

 

Company spokesman Evan Zeppos said the project protects more than 40 acres of wetland for every acre impacted.

"When you look at a project that is impacting 16 but preserving another 643, many of which are high-quality wetlands, and you add in things like the Rudd Creek restoration, the eco-passages, as well as the $65 million investment and 100 new jobs, I think this project warrants support," Zeppos said.

 

In an environmental review, the DNR acknowledged the project could set a precedent by using wetland preservation as a means of mitigation. The agency also points out the project would impact wetlands primarily in a white pine-red maple swamp, which is considered an "imperiled" wetland community in Wisconsin.

 

Environmentalists question whether the DNR approved the company’s wetland permit in accordance with state law. Stacy Harbaugh, communications director for Midwest Environmental Advocates, said the DNR also points out that the loss of white pine-red maple swamp "is expected to be irreversible and has high significance."

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Some Wisconsin loggers holding off on timber harvests

Some Wisconsin loggers holding off on timber harvests | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Some northern Wisconsin loggers are putting off timber harvests. The prices for timber products they deliver have fallen over the past eight months.

Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association Executive Director Henry Schienebeck said some loggers are holding off on harvesting wood they bought under contract. He said an oversupply of raw material on the market is leading some to consider their options.

“The guys are still able to produce the wood. Now, they’re trying to adjust their production levels to what the mill requirements are right now,” Schienebeck said.

Larger mills don’t have as much need for wood since they have full inventories, according to Forrest Gibeault, analysis and investment operations director with forestry consulting firm Steigerwaldt Land Services out of Tomahawk. He said several factors are driving that.

“One of them being that the mills are probably not working at full capacity,” Gibeault said. “Their product demand may not be where they would like to see it.”

He added loggers likely expanded their workforce last year to produce more wood for mills that had lower inventories at the time. Now, Gibeault said larger mills can afford to pay loggers less for the wood they deliver because of adequate supplies.

While some loggers are delaying harvest, that’s increasing uncertainty for northern Wisconsin counties that aren’t paid for timber sale contracts until the wood is harvested. 

Jon Harris, director of forestry and natural resources for Douglas County, said they’re seeing a backlog of active contracts. The county's number of contracts that haven’t yet been harvested has increased by about one-third in the last decade.

“I believe we have just upwards of $13 million of stumpage on our books right now. We haven’t realized any of that obviously until it gets harvested,” said Harris. “The longer you’re carrying that inventory, the more you’re at risk for losing some of that inventory.”

Harris said a wildfire, windstorm or market collapse could mean a revenue loss for the county. He said eight contractors are seeking final, fifth-year extensions on about 20 timber sale contracts this year. The county typically sells contracts on a two-year term to harvest, offering up to two extensions. Anything beyond that, loggers may see their bidding privileges suspended.

“The winter harvesting season the last couple years has been poor. Also, most of these contracts that were purchased three, four years ago were purchased at a fraction of the cost of what timber is being sold for today,” said Harris. “The longer they hold these, the greater the profit return they’re going to have on them.”
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Opinion: Douglas County forestland a bargain

Opinion: Douglas County forestland a bargain | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The state Natural Resources Board will be asked Wednesday to approve purchase of an easement on 7,090 acres in Douglas County for $3.5 million. The request by the state Department of Natural Resources is a smart investment that will serve the resource, industry and those who love the outdoors. It also builds on a historic transaction that comprises more than 100 square miles and continues Wisconsin's tradition of preserving natural spaces for future generations.

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The agreements spell out requirements for continued logging, which will be managed by the Lyme Timber Co., and keep land open for hunting, fishing, hiking and other activities. The agreements also prohibit construction, deforestation and subdividing the land.

 

Preservation of forest land as well as jobs in the logging industry. What's not to like? Make this purchase.

 

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Blue Source and Forest Investment Associates Register 1st Wisconsin Forest Carbon Project with California's Cap and Trade Program

Blue Source and Forest Investment Associates Register 1st Wisconsin Forest Carbon Project with California's Cap and Trade Program | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
As project manager for Forest Investment Associates (FIA), Blue Source today announced the registration of over 695,000 forest carbon offsets with California’s cap and trade carbon market. Situated on approximately 30,000 acres of mixed hardwood forest in Wisconsin, the Blue Source- Goodman Improved Forest Management Project represents Blue Source’s second Lake-State based forest project under California’s program.

As a result of pre-contracted sales conducted by Blue Source, the project will immediately generate carbon revenue for FIA. In addition to marketing the project credits, Blue Source provided development services, ushering the project from conception through inventory development, carbon modeling, 3rd party verification, and credit registration.
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Board to take up forest easements as program is in doubt

Board to take up forest easements as program is in doubt | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The second phase of a deal that creates the largest land conservation purchase in Wisconsin history goes before the Natural Resources Board next week at a time when the program's future is in jeopardy.

The Department of Natural Resources is proceeding with plans in northwest Wisconsin to buy a conservation easement on 21,189 acres for $5.6 million.

The measure comes as Gov. Scott Walker is proposing to freeze spending for such land purchases because of rising debt costs.

The DNR said the latest transaction would not be affected because funding comes in the current fiscal year and Walker's proposals would not take effect until July 1, the start of the state's new fiscal year.
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If the latest deal is approved at a meeting in Madison on Feb. 25, the DNR will have paid a total of $16.9 million for conservation easements on 65,867 acres in Douglas County. The easements will protect the property from development, ensuring it remains open for public use in perpetuity.

The first phase of the deal occurred in May 2012, when the DNR struck an agreement with the Lyme Timber Co. of Hanover, N.H., using funds from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund.

Lyme Timber, a timberland investment management organization, will continue to own the land and manage it for timber production.

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State purchases conservation easement on Iron County forestland

State purchases conservation easement on Iron County forestland | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Nearly 14,000 acres of northern Wisconsin forestland will be set aside for timber production and public use in a deal between the state and a nonprofit group.

The Department of Natural Resources used $4.5 million from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund to purchase a conservation easement on 13,732 acres in Iron County.

The deal, which ranks among the top 10 in state land purchases, was finalized in late December between the DNR and the Conservation Fund, which announced details Monday.

The Conservation Fund is a nonprofit group that buys land, often for a short period, then resells the parcel to a new buyer with a requirement that the land remain protected.

The Conservation Fund purchased the parcel from a Brazilian company last summer. The land had been held by Consolidated Papers for generations before the Wisconsin-based company was sold and the land passed through several owners.

The Twin Lakes Legacy Forest is 89% forested, according to the DNR.

The property in the Towns of Knight and Mercer has six small lakes and three miles of frontage on LeClair and Apple creeks, both Class 1 trout streams.
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Wisconsin: sales of timber on state land up 8%

Wisconsin: sales of timber on state land up 8% | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Sales of timber on state land hit a record $11.7 million last year, the Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday. Sales rose 8% in fiscal 2014, which ended on June 30, over the previous year. In the past decade, timber sales have increased 125%, the agency said.
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The forest products and pulp and paper industry complained for years that they were unable to get access to adequate supplies of trees on state land because the DNR was experiencing a backlog in evaluating timber sales.
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In 2005, the Legislature added funding in the state budget to restore 40 state forester positions and help reduce a backlog of 170,000 acres of forest sales, according to Wisconsin Outdoor News.


Since then, the state has been able to whittle down the backlog and approve more timber sales, according to Paul DeLong, administrator of the state forestry division of the DNR.


Private land is the largest source of timber in the state, followed by county forests and then state land, according to DNR officials. On county land, 50,971 acres were logged in 2013, generating $31.7 million in revenue for counties, DNR figures show.

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Plum Creek sells 50,000 acres of Wisconsin forestland

Plum Creek sells 50,000 acres of Wisconsin forestland | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Plum Creek, a company that owns thousands of acres of industrial forestland in southern Wood and northern Adams counties, is selling most of it to another company.


Plum Creek is selling about 50,000 acres of its Wisconsin land, most of it in Adams and Wood counties, to Timberland Investment Resources, said Mark Doty, Plum Creek community affairs manager.


“We were approached by the buyer several months ago, and, based on the offer, it made business sense for Plum Creek to sell the land,” Doty said.


Plum Creek will continue to own about 11,000 acres in the state, with most of that land being committed to buyer purchase options in the two counties. The 11,000 acres is mostly made up of land Plum Creek has committed to selling to companies planning a large-scale dairy in Saratoga and a links-style golf course in Rome, Doty said.


Timberland Investment Resources is an Atlanta-based company that buys and manages forest property for long-term investment, said Tom Johnson, Timberland Investments managing director. The company raises money from large institutional investors, such as public pension funds, endowments, foundations and unions. It then takes the money and makes long-term investments in forestland.
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Plum Creek is proud to have managed forestland in Wisconsin for the past 13 years, Doty said. The company has contributed to the state’s economy, helped commit 112,000 acres of forestland to permanent conservation, protected endangered species and supported rural communities, he said.

Sam Radcliffe's insight:

This represents nearly the final deal in Plum Creek's approximate 7-year liquidation of about 550,000 acres in Wisconsin. Plum Creek had consolidated ownership of two large industrial properties. That combined property is now owned by probably no fewer than 10 entities.


Contrary to what many think, when a TIMO "buys" a property it is actually only acting as an agent for one or more of its investors. What looks like a single transaction in the newspapers may in fact be multiple transactions, the property being split among several TIMO investors. This has led to ownership fragmentation of large properties across the country.


In the first round of fragmentation, there is no noticeable change in property management on the ground, because the ownerships are all being managed by the same TIMO. We are now entering the second round as the 10-15 year investment cycle closes. It will be interesting to see the impacts of this fragmentation in the long term. My feeling is that it is a negative trend for both the environment and for the forest products industry that sources wood from these properties. If the consuming mills are made less profitable, that will ultimately increase risk for timber investors...

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