Oneida County looking at expanding its forestland
Two properties in Enterprise possible purchases
BY KEVIN BONESKE
More than 200 acres of property in the town of Enterprise could be added to Oneida County’s forestland, if the price is right.
County Board supervisors passed a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting to authorize the county’s Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee to pursue the purchase of adjacent properties known as the Haug and Houle parcels. The resolution also calls for any agreement to purchase any or all of the property owned by the Haugs or Houles to be brought before the County Board for final approval.
To reduce the overall cost to the county of purchasing the properties, the resolution includes applying for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grant to potentially reimburse the county for a portion of the funds required to acquire any or all of that land.
County forestry and recreation director John Bilogan provided supervisors with details about the two properties, for which the Haug parcel surrounds Gillette Lake and the Houle parcel encompasses Wickham Lake with the acreage of both properties having primarily hardwood trees.
Bilogan said the acquisition of those properties would make it possible to consolidate the county forestland by reducing private property lines, potential for encroachment, potential for timber theft and potential management conflicts.
In addition to recreational opportunities and protecting undeveloped land and lakes, Bilogan also noted the purchase would streamline the management of adjacent county forestland and provide a larger county forestland base for management.
Though the fair market value of both parcels combined is more than $1 million, Bilogan said obtaining a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grant could reduce the cost to the county by half. In addition, he noted the county could reduce the purchase by another $154,000 by getting credit for enrolling seven parcels the county currently owns into the county forest program.
“So that brings us down into the neighborhood of $370,000 that we would have to come up with after the Knowles-Nelson funding,” said Bilogan, who also noted the county could obtain a no-interest, no-date-of-call loan from the state as long as the county would set aside 20 percent of it stumpage revenue to pay off that loan.
“That stumpage that we bring in each year, that as of late has been averaging around $1.5 million a year, we need to take off an additional 20 percent of that to apply towards the loan,” he said.
Supervisor Scott Holewinski questioned the effect purchasing the properties and taking them off the tax rolls could have in the county.
“Everybody pays a little bit more when you say, ‘We can recoup our money,” Holewinski said. “That’s not true. We have to pick up the lost taxes each year for those properties….
“There’s going to be improvement costs over time. There’s going to be cross country ski trails, pavilions, there’s going to be boat landings. You watch, this is all going to cost taxpayers more money…. How much is enough public property in one county?”
Supervisor Jack Sorensen, who chairs the Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee, said a “conservative” estimate of how much stumpage revenue a select cut could generate on the property is in the neighborhood of $100,000.
“So that further drops the purchase price,” Sorensen said. “I’ve said it before, this is an extremely unique piece of real estate.”
Bilogan noted that one timber sale of hardwood on the properties the county is looking at purchasing could, based on the dollars the county would see in taxes, cover 38 years of tax revenue.
“We would go back approximately every 15 years and have subsequent sales,” he said. “So in those 38 years, we’d re-enter it twice more. We’d easily be money ahead right there.”