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Fire danger remains high

Normally by this time of year, spring wildfire danger is over. Due to minimal precipitation, the danger isn’t over yet.

Since June 1, the DNR has responded to 106 wildfires in DNR protection areas. Fire danger remains elevated in many parts of the state, with much of the northern half of Wisconsin currently experiencing High to Very High fire danger.

DNR-issued burning permits will be suspended in some counties. As always, check for restrictions in your area daily after 11 a.m.

Be cautious with anything that could inadvertently start a wildfire. Ensure all tow chains are secured, avoid parking vehicles on dry grass, keep ATVs and UTVs on the trail and avoid any fireworks use. If you’re doing any woods work, avoid setting down hot chainsaws on dry grass or leaves.  Never leave your campfire unattended and make sure it’s fully out – drown and stir until all material feels cool.

Input Invited on Forest Tax Law Handbook Updates

The DNR Division of Forestry prioritizes soliciting stakeholder input on division documents. As a division, we are committed to informing and involving our stakeholders in the development and review of materials that guide our programs. Inviting stakeholders to provide input is not only good customer service, it also creates opportunities to identify potential concerns and unforeseen impacts, understand diverse perspectives and determine the level of stakeholder support for division documents. To review and provide feedback on a document, go to the DNR Forestry Public Comment webpage here

DOCUMENT AVAILABLE NOW FOR STAKEHOLDER INPUT:
Document Title: Forest Tax Law Handbook HB2450.5
Contact Person: Skya Rose Murphy, skyar.murphy@wisconsin.gov or 608-843-1551
Due Date: June 4, 2021
For a detailed description of document updates, visit the webpage here.

Annual Property Implementation Plans

Each spring, state forests develop Annual Property Implementation Plans (APIPs) and Monitoring Reports identifying the major scheduled and completed forest and habitat management treatments, recreation and infrastructure development projects and other property management actions. These plans are shared with the public online and include scheduled treatments over the next three years. All planned treatments and developments are approved and consistent with the property master plans developed with additional public input. Annual Property Implementation Plans do not include routine maintenance or minor actions including mowing, building maintenance, inventory or field surveys. Comments on APIPs can be directed to the property manager.

Fire Danger High and Expected to Increase Over Weekend

Wisconsin fire experts remind Wisconsinites that we’re entering a critical period for forest fire potential and it’s essential to regularly check fire danger and burning restrictions.

Since March 1, DNR firefighters have responded to 500 wildfires that have burned more than 1600 acres. Fire danger is expected to increase over the weekend, due in part to the fact that southern Wisconsin has received less rain than normal.

Crown fire rages during 2005 Cottonville Fire.

Additionally, the state’s greatest tree species of concern, pines, are in a phenomenon called the “spring dip.” During this time, moisture content in the needles is low while the starch content is high. This combination, which is not visible to the naked eye, means that pine trees are more likely to catch fire during a wildfire and crown fires (fires in the tree tops) are possible. The timing of this phenomenon coincides with the greening-up of ground vegetation and leafing out of trees, which can cause people to let their guard down.

May 5th marks the 16th anniversary of the Cottonville Fire, which burned 3,410 acres in Adams County. The fire burned a swath of forest land and residential property 1.5 miles wide and 7 miles long; 90 buildings were destroyed, including 9 year-round homes, 21 seasonal homes, and 60 outbuildings. The fire was started by a person who failed to follow burning permit restrictions.

Burning permits for residential debris burning are frequently suspended this time of year when fire danger increases. Check the day’s burning restrictions every day you intend to burn by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or by checking online. Larger piles and daytime burning require a special permit from the DNR. Piling your debris in a campfire pit does not make it acceptable to burn during the day. Remember: If your property is outside the DNR protection area, check with local officials for burning restrictions.

DNR co-sponsors industry listening sessions

You are invited to participate in online public listening sessions focused on supporting, developing, and diversifying our forest products industry. The sessions are being hosted by the Wisconsin Council on Forestry in partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

You may attend one or both listening sessions being held on May 6, 2021 from 2 to 4 pm and May 11, 2021 from 6 to 8 pm.
Each session will include simultaneous breakout rooms that will offer attendees an opportunity to share their input on our forest industry. Sign up in advance to attend the sessions or provide written comments here: https://wedc.org/rural-prosperity/forest-products-industry-listening-sessions/.

These listening sessions are part of a broader effort the Council on Forestry is leading, along with partners, to develop actionable initiatives leading up to a Regional Economic Diversification Summit (REDS). Through its REDS process, the U.S. Economic Development Administration works directly with stakeholders to leverage and align federal, state, and local project implementation resources for locally-identified economic development strategies and priorities.

Forest industries play a vital role in our state’s economy and the sustainable management of our forest resources. Your voice is needed now to help support Wisconsin’s forest products industry.

For more information, contact DNR Forest Products Team Leader Collin Buntrock at (608) 286-9083.

Seedlings Still Available For Spring 2021 Planting

The spring of 2021 has been conducive to seedling harvest at the Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel. The nights have been cool, and the days warm and dry. A few well-timed rain events kept the soil conditions moist but not muddy.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forestry staff and contractors are taking full advantage of the conditions. Regardless of the weather, the staff at the Wilson Nursery is working to harvest, grade and package our home-grown, native trees and shrubs for distribution to landowners across the state.

In our nursery operations, we know how many seedlings are available to sell by sampling a portion of our rows, inputting that data into a formula and then estimating inventories. Sometimes we underestimate, and sometimes we over estimate. Most of the time, we are close.

We learn how accurate we are when we harvest and grade those seedlings in the spring. This year, we have some species that had much healthier volumes than anticipated.

For those still interested in creating wildlife habitat, starting a plantation for future wood production, stabilizing an erodible bank or field, or adding to the landscape’s aesthetic beauty, the Wisconsin reforestation program may be able to help.

We still have inventories of jack and red pine, white spruce, red oak, black walnut and various wildlife shrubs. Plus, other species may become available. All are well suited for the soils of Wisconsin. Contact our nursery hotline at 715-424-3700 for up-to-date information on seedling availability and to place an order.

Seedlings sold by the Wisconsin state nurseries are to be used for reforestation, wildlife habitat and windbreak and erosion control purposes and must be planted in Wisconsin. The minimum order is a packet of 300 seedlings, 500 shrubs or 1,000 seedlings. Seedlings need to be picked up at the Wilson, Griffith or Hayward nurseries.

You can find answers to the most common questions about tree planting on this DNR web page or contact Jeremiah Auer, DNR Regeneration Specialist.

Survey Request for Webinar Topics

The DNR’s Forest Products Services team hosted a webinar in June 2020 that highlighted some of the positives of building with wood and explored the state of Wisconsin’s forest resources. To expand on that basic message, we are working on a series of future webinars that will address more specific themes within the broader theme of building with wood.

To best assess which topics potential attendees are most interested in learning about, we kindly ask that you fill out the survey linked below. We would very much appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback. We estimate that the few short questions found in the link below will take less than three minutes of your time. The survey will close on April 21, 2021.

Access the survey link here.

If you have any questions regarding the survey or webinars, contact Alex Anderson, DNR Forest Products Specialist, at  715-492-0571 or Sabina Dhungana, DNR Forest Products Specialist, at 608-220-4531.

USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new programs to bring financial assistance to producers, including assistance for timber harvesting and hauling firms, who were impacted by market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The USDA will re-open the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) signup for at least 60 days, beginning on April 5, 2021. Please visit the USDA Pandemic Assistance webpage for more information.

There’s More To Panels Than OSB And Plywood

By Alex Anderson, DNR Forest Products Specialist, Rhinelander

When people think of wood-based panel products, plywood and oriented-strand board (OSB) usually come to mind. However, a vast array of panel products whose primary building block is wood do not fall under the auspices of plywood or OSB. Before we explore those, it’s important to understand the distinction between “structural” panels and “non-structural” panels.

As the name implies, structural panels are designed to bolster the strength, stiffness and resistance of the items they adhere to. Plywood, generally, is utilized in commercial structures, whereas OSB is more common in residential construction.

Both plywood and OSB function as cladding for roofs, walls and subfloors. In Wisconsin, various plywood manufacturers generally produce hardwood plywood for decorative applications, such as furniture, cabinets, pinblocks for pianos and many others. There are also two OSB manufacturers in Wisconsin that utilize OSB as a base for their siding product.

Alternatively, non-structural panel products are primarily represented by medium-density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard and hardboard. Like OSB and plywood, these panels are prized for their dimensional stability and textural consistency.
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Federal Tax Credits Extended For Business-Scale Biomass Combined Heat and Power Systems

By Sabina Dhungana, DNR Forest Products Specialist, Madison

Were you shocked by your mill or plant’s power bill recently? Then 2021 might be a good year to consider adding a wood-fired combined heat and power (CHP) system or upgrading your existing biomass-fueled boiler system to add power generation capability.

Operators and managers of mills or other forest industry plants looking to reduce energy costs may qualify for the 30% energy tax credit included in the 2021 Federal Omnibus spending bill. Organizations may also be eligible by upgrading an existing biomass-fueled boiler system to add power generation capability. Biomass energy systems with more than 150 kW of electricity generation capacity may be eligible for the tax credit. To qualify for the energy tax credit, construction must start before Jan. 1, 2022.
Continue reading “Federal Tax Credits Extended For Business-Scale Biomass Combined Heat and Power Systems”