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Wednesday, April 13, 2011




Wednesday, 7:45 AM.  45 degrees, wind WNW, calm.  The sky is overcast and it looks like rain, although the barometer does not predict it.
    Yesterday Howard,  Gene and I (all of us City of Bayfield Tree Board members) attended the annual Critical Issues in Forestry conference held in Ashland. We all thought it extremely interesting and valuable, with speakers  representing  National, State, and County forests, as well as loggers, a power company/biofuels representative and a realator. The economy has hit most forest products businesses very hard, and the general theme of private business is that governmental policies are not helping, that regulations are obstreperous and that taxes, including real estate taxes, have become prohibitive.   Governmental units own the majority of the land in Bayfield County and therefore control most of the natural resource base and pay no taxes, and hard times are leading to very difficult decisions in the forestry industry in Wisconsin.
    Much is made of the DNR granting local governments a payment in lieu of taxes on the land they hold, but this is just slight of hand (my opinion) as the state gets its money from taxes.  It is not common knowledge that the State of Wisconsin sets the property tax rates for various parts of the state, and there is a tax premium on waterfront and water view and recreational land. Real estate values have plummeted by almost half, and yet taxes seldom go down, and many landowners are “under water,” their property worth less than their mortgage.
    Wisconsin is now the number one state in forestry products and related businesses in the United States, and it is a mainstay of the local and state economies. It also seems that reality has set into the biofuels industry, and it will not be as major a factor in the future of forestry as originally thought.
    The bears are suddenly out and about.  I have not encountered any as yet, but others have seen them in town.  Neighbor Sherman had a bird feeder destroyed two nights ago, and I filled our feeders for perhaps the last time yesterday.  There were lots of geese, ducks and swans on Chequamegon Bay  in Ashland yesterday

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