Board backs double certification for county forests
New full-time county forester also approved
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Timber harvested from forests owned by Oneida County will have dual certification in the future under a resolution approved Tuesday by the County Board.
County forest director John Bilogan said the main benefit of including the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which has been requested by several local mills, along with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification the county has been a participant of since January 2005, would be for those mills to sell FSC-certified products.
“There will be an additional workload on our department getting up to speed (on FSC certification) – largely paperwork,” Bilogan said. “We have a 15-year plan that we operate under, which many parts of it will have to be amended and brought to the County Board for approval.”
Bilogan said the differences “shouldn’t be that great” between handling certification with FSC and SFI, “although there are some differences.”
“I think people would view FSC as slightly more restrictive, slightly more conservative of the two groups,” he said. “Initially, many years ago – I guess it was 10 or 12 years ago when certification first came to the state of Wisconsin, the County Forest Association – we opted into SFI, largely because at the time, the industry was promoting that particular certification entity as the one of choice for the industry.
“But over the years, apparently things have changed. Not that there’s still not an interest in SFI, but apparently there’s more of a thrust for FSC.”
The resolution notes that the “direct costs of forest certification” are to be paid by the state Department of Natural Resources, which manages the forestland in partnership with the county, though if that doesn’t happen the matter of participation in the forest certification programs would be brought back to the county Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee and/or the County Board for reconsideration.
All 16 supervisors present out of the 21 on the County Board also backed a resolution to hire a new full-time forester position effective Jan. 1.
The resolution notes the county has had difficulty since 2012 with hiring and retaining a forester as a limited-term employee (LTE) and that it also would be in the best interest of the forestry department to have a staff member cross-trained in the development of additional miles of motorized trails, for which there has been an increase of public requests.
County human resources director Lisa Charbarneau said the fiscal impact statement for the new forester position takes into account the Administration Committee increasing the budget revenue line item for the forestry department and also removed the LTE money from the budget.
“The fiscal impact before you looks pretty pleasant, actually, when you look at the numbers before you,” she said.
Based on the “Grade Level H,” the fiscal impact of the position in 2017 for wages and benefits would range from $63,653 at “Step 1” to $69,537 at “Step 6.” However, given the $34,194 that would have been available for LTE positions and additional revenue factored in, the estimated additional cost would be $2,937 at Step 1 and $6,369 at Step 6 with public charges for stumpage revenue being the funding source.