Wisconsin budget proposal moves forestry division up north

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin lawmaker says he believes Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to move the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ forestry division up north will help with recruitment.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports the governor’s 2017-2019 budget proposal requires the headquarters for the state’s chief forester to move by January 2018 to an existing DNR facility north of Highway 29, which runs from Eau Claire to Green Bay.

Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst said he supports the move because some foresters don’t want to work in Madison.

“They like to hunt. They like to fish. They like to be in rural Wisconsin, small town Wisconsin. It was limiting the pool of people that would apply for some of those jobs,” Tiffany said. “I think it’s really good to move the division headquarters to northern Wisconsin, and hopefully that will be accomplished here.”

Walker’s budget would allow current forestry staff in Madison to relocate in phases. The current Madison headquarters’ forestry division employs more than 55 full-time employees. The governor’s proposal also authorizes the department to pay for their moving expenses.

Chief Forester and Forestry Division Administrator Fred Souba Jr. said in a recent message to staff that no timetable has been scheduled for the move.

“Such a move will allow division leadership to be closer to the resources we manage and provide more opportunities for direct contact with division field staff, forestry partners and the forest industry,” Souba wrote.

Bayfield County forest administrator Jason Bodine said the move may make state interactions more convenient, but he said it wouldn’t have an impact on county forest management.

“The DNR provides a variety of different technical assistance to the county programs,” Bodine said. “Sometimes we travel down. Sometimes they travel up, so the closer you can make that headquarters, the more convenient it is for everyone involved.”

DNR spokesman Jim Dick said the department hasn’t determined how many staff may relocate and to which locations they may move.

–Associated Press

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