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Forestry Policy Conference generates dialog, ideas

CARTER, Wis. (WXPR) -- Forest health and management practices were discussed Monday during the Forestry Policy Conference held in Carter.

Three Congressional members, U.S. Forest Service representatives, state legislators and department heads, tribal representatives, and business interests discussed timber management, mainly in Wisconsin and Michigan's national forests.

Michigan Republican U.S. Representative Dan Benishek from Iron River says there has been a push to get more production from the forests. “I know what we’ve been working on in Congress to try to fix some of the individual parts of the process, and make it easier for people to harvest out of the federal forests. It’s good some ideas came out today that I hadn’t thought of, so that’s always good.” Benishek says in his Upper Peninsula district, they have three national forests. He says the needs of the forests in this region are different than in other parts of the country.

Lawsuits from environmental interests have delayed contracts the Forest Service would propose to let.

State Senator Tom Tiffany has been a critic of Forest Service allowable cutting policies. “It is very clear when we heard from many speakers today that forest health is a major concern.”

Forest Service Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson says the possibility of collaboration is an outcome from this type of meeting. She says the national forests face challenges. “There’s a lot of invasive species, so there’s a lot of threats to our forests. There’s a lot of fragmentation, private land, so there’s a lot of challenges facing the forests these days. That makes it more incumbent upon us to really work hard to make sure we’re managing the forests well to maintain the health.”

Wisconsin Congressmen Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble also attended the conference.