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Gov. Walker: Healthy Forest Restoration Designation Granted
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 05/23/2014

The federal government has approved Governor Scott Walker's request that 21 areas in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest be included in the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. The program, which was established as part of a provision in the recently enacted farm bill, expedites environmental and administrative rules for contracts to treat, remove and replant trees in areas facing declining forest health and substantial tree mortality.

Walker submitted the request in April after the state has been battling against the emerald ash borer, spruce budworm, and diseases affecting oaks and maples.

"Healthy, productive, and sustainably-managed national forests in Wisconsin are critical to the success of our timber and tourism industries, as well as our sporting heritage and our quality of life," Governor Walker said. "This designation allows us to work quickly to protect the trees in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest that are at risk of disease and damage due to invasive species."

Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said the agency will support the forestry council as it works with the U.S. Forest Service to engage stakeholders, including conservation groups, recreational associations, tourism groups, citizens, and industry. While the federal act does not provide additional funds, the ability to expedite projects in a collaborative manner will ensure that existing resources are invested for the greatest impact.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest spans more than 1.5 million acres of Wisconsin's north woods with segments in Ashland, Bayfield, Florence, Forest, Langlade, Oconto, Oneida, Price, Sawyer, Taylor, and Vilas counties.

Wisconsin is among 35 states that requested a designation under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act.

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