February 18, 2015
Republican Gov. Scott Walker has proposed slashing state oversight of logging on millions of acres of private land upon request from the timber industry, which has contributed about $68,000 to his political campaigns.
The provision in Walker’s proposed 2015-17 state would affect about 3.2 million acres of private land enrolled in the state’s managed forest program. The 29-year-old program requires enrollees to file timber management and harvesting plans in exchange for lower property taxes.
The governor’s plan would give landowners automatic state approval for timber cutting when they hire contactors who participate in a Department of Natural Resources forest management education program.
Critics contend Walker’s plan reduces the state’s ability to safeguard wildlife habitat, water quality and recreational opportunities on land enrolled in the forest management program.
The timber industry contributed more than $177,000 between 2009 and July 2014 to all candidates for statewide office and the legislature, with 38.5 percent ($68,229) of that going to Walker.
Top timber industry contributors to Walker were the Plum Creek Timber Co. political action committee, $11,500; Rita Stilin, a North Country Lumber executive in High Bridge, $6,000; and William B. Johnson, a Johnson Timber Co. executive, and his wife, Patricia, of Hayward, $5,750.