Forest Policy Updates

The Forest Stewards Guild and many of our colleagues and collaborators have been invovled in current policy issues. Read on for a few recent highlights.

Wisconsin Members Advocate for Public Forestry Funding

In 1924, following the nearly 70 years of the "big cut" that transformed millions of acres of forests in the Lake States to stump lands, the Wisconsin Legislature made provisions in the state's Constitution for a small statewide property tax that would fund badly-needed reforestation and forest protection. Since then, the dedicated funding from Wisconsin’s Forestry Mill Tax has provided essential support for activities that assure the continued health and productivity of over 17 million acres of Wisconsin’s federal, state, county, and private forests, and direct benefits for a $24.7 billion dollar forestry sector and its more than 64,000 jobs. Support from the Forestry Mill Tax has helped Wisconsin develop what has been for many years one of the nation's best public forestry programs. 

Governor Walker's proposed budget would eliminate $180.4 million in estimated Forestry Mill Tax revenue in the 2017-2019 biennium and replace that funding with General Purpose Revenue (GPR). The Wisconsin members of the Forest Stewards Guild strongly support maintaining a dedicated funding source for forestry in Wisconsin. The position statement on Elimination of Funding for Wisconsin Forests has been circulated to forestry stakeholders and the media statewide, and the Guild has joined other organizations including the Wisconsin Woodland Owners, The Nature Conservancy, and the land trust community in advocating to restore stable funding to support the wide range of activities that keep the state's forests healthy and productive.   

Public Lands Policy Statement Approved by Membership

In the face of recent events, the Guild has adopted a new policy statement on Public Lands.The Guild is now on the record in support of continued public land ownership with balanced uses, and for a continued public voice in how federal lands are managed.

Guild policy statements are intended to provide broad guidance on important topics and to inform more focused advocacy on specific issues. Having a clear policy statement on public lands and public forestry issues provides a foundation for Guild members to take positions on state and local issues, and supports our ongoing advocacy at the federal level. Read more about the vote and the policy statement here.

Maine Forest Policy Updates

In Maine, a bill (LD586) has been proposed to implement the recommendations of the Commission to Study the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund. The same bill was unanimously passed by the Maine Legislature in 2016, but was vetoed by Governor LePage. Read a summary here.

Separately, the Governor's proposed budget includes measures to reduce support for public lands stewardship in Maine's Bureau of Parks and Lands. Thee hearing has taken place, and the ACF Committee will be making decisions within the coming weeks.

National Forest Policy Updates

The Guild is signed on to the Forests in the Farm Bill coalition letter which calls for Increase the long-term protection and conservation of forest resources from threats such as wildfire, insects and diseases including the use of fire as an important forest management tool. Read the letter here.

The Guild is also a supporter of the Timber Innovation Act, which has been reintroduced in the House and Senate. Read more at www.timberinnovation.org.