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Senator Baldwin seeks forest management answers

CRANDON, Wis. (WXPR) -- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin visited Forest County Monday to learn about the economic importance of the logging industry. Baldwin has supported higher levels of cutting in the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest, saying she wants the forest to meet its harvest goals.  “When I hear how a well vetted plan about how the forests in this area would be managed over the years – when I see that they haven’t even gotten close to achieving those goals, when they’ve been put together with a lot of stakeholder involvement, that’s disappointing and I want to know why.”

The forest products industry has complained about the level of cutting, saying it’s putting a pinch on supply and stifling local economies.

Meanwhile some advocates say the Chequamegon Nicolet is adequately logged, or should be preserved for recreational use.

Peter Connor, Vice President of Nicolet Hardwoods and WD Flooring in Laona, says raw materials for his operations need come from within a 90 mile radius to stay affordable. Right now he says supply is tight. “As evidenced by our logyard – we probably have about a week’s supply here right now. It would be nice to have about a four weeks’ supply. And we’re not the only mill that’s in this sort of functional dysfunctionality, with regards to raw materials sourcing.”

Connor also says the lack of hardwoods coming out of the national forest affects how private timber land is cut and managed.

Senator Baldwin toured the Nicolet Hardwoods sawmill in Laona, and and says she’ll take what she’s learned back to Washington.