Friday, 9:00 AM. 39 degrees F, wind NE, calm to gusty. The sky is completely overcast and everything is wet and damp, but the barometer is up so it should clear later or at least by tomorrow.
The Chamber annual meeting and awards dinner was held last night, at the Bayfield Pavilion. The business meeting was succinct, the dinner speaker truly inspiring (a local woman who has climbed the world’s seven highest peaks, despite having the highly debilitating disease of MS). The retiring Executive Director was awarded gifts, cheers and even some tears. But the best award of all I thought was that given to the six individuals who got up early every morning all summer to go out and water the city’s hanging flower baskets.
Yesterday I said I would explain the Managed Forest Law which mandated the logging where I deer hunt. Actually there are two rather similar Wisconsin laws, the Managed Forest Law and the Forest Crop Law, both of which provide property tax relief incentives to owners of forested land who properly manage their holdings. And, proper management means responsible logging on a planned schedule.
The MFL lands must be open to public hunting, fishing and other recreation; the FCL lands are only open to hunting and fishing. The owner may negotiate some restrictions to public access, but at a reduced rate of tax relief. That said, both programs offer very significant tax relief, according to formulas which are rather too detailed to explain herein.
These programs have several objectives, the first being an incentive to owners of forested land to harvest their timber in a manner which assures that it is being done scientifically, as a certified forester must be hired to devise the plan. Equally important is assuring that timber on private lands is actually being harvested, which keeps the overall forest young and more healthy, reduces fire hazards, adds more oxygen to the atmosphere while reducing carbon dioxide, and provides optimum wildlife habitat (particularly for grouse and deer).
The second objective is to provide recreational opportunities for the public on private forest land. This is a considerable recreational resource, which can be accessed by computer search by county or a hard copy Open Lands Listing of properties enrolled in the programs (available from the WIDNR). Word of mouth and local knowledge are probably just as important.
A third objective is adding forest resources to the forest products income stream of the state and nation. Forest products…logging, lumbering, paper production and other wood products, is one of the most important industries in the State of Wisconsin, and vital to its economic health.
It seems that these programs are win-win for everyone, although as with all tax supported programs, they must be continually monitored by the tax paying public to see that the benefits outweigh the costs. There is also the very real hazard of lands being held primarily for real estate investment at an artificially low tax rate. Timber companies, many of them huge national and international corporations, have been very deft at this, holding enormous acreages and then subdividing them into smaller parcels when the market is ripe.
However, for myself and many others the most obvious benefit is a good place to hunt.