National Forest Legal News Blog


Rhinelander, Wisconsin To Hold Forest Policy Conference

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on October 5, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Forestry Policy Conference

Nicolet College, Rhinelander, WI

Monday, October 17, 2011

8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

There are six national forests in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan and the issues and concerns involving forest management are virtually the same in each. Those involved in the timber industry in all three states also share concerns regarding a wide range of other issues including timber supply, transportation, regulatory reform and lawsuit reform.

The Forestry Policy Conference is a unique effort on the part of U.S. Representatives Sean Duffy (WI-7), Reid Ribble (WI-8), Dan Benishek, M.D. (MI-1), and Chip Cravaack (MN-8) to bring together forestry leaders from throughout their districts as well as others interested in forestry issues. The conference goal is to highlight current policies impacting forestry and discuss opportunities that will allow better utilization of our forest resources across the four congressional districts represented.

It is hoped that this year’s conference will be the first of what will become an annual event to bring together industry leaders and those interested in forestry issues for a meaningful discussion on the important issues of the day.

The conference will be held in the theater at Nicolet College, 5364 College Drive, Rhinelander, WI. The theater has a capacity of 250 and it is anticipated that maximum capacity will be reached. Each congressional district will have 30 reserved spots for attendees from their districts and the remainder of the available slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Registration will take place from 8:00 to 8:30 am, followed by five-minute opening remarks from each member. Members not able to attend will be invited to submit a DVD with their welcome message.

The first panel of the day will take place from 8:50 to 9:50 am, focusing on “National Forest Management.” Following five minutes of opening remarks, Representative Duffy will introduce the five panel members for a five-minute presentation each and then facilitate thirty minutes of questions from the audience and discussion.

Henry Scheinebeck, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association in Rhinelander, WI, has been confirmed as a panel member. Henry will speak about the social and economic impact of issues involved with management of the National Forest. Other panelists will include State Representative Tom Tiffany, Hazelhurst, WI, and State Senator Tom Casperson, Escanada, MI, who will summarize their findings from the National Forest Conference they hosted earlier this year in Quinnesec, Michigan; and Scott Dane, Executive Director of the Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota. Regional Forester Chuck Meyers of the U.S. Forest Service in Milwaukee will also serve on the panel and offer a perspective on common policy issues involving all the national forests throughout the region.

Following a break with refreshments from 9:50 to 10:05 am, a second panel will be held on “Timber Supply and Transportation Issues.” Rep. Cravaack will serve as moderator for this panel and will open with five minutes of remarks. Panelists will be asked to speak for five minutes each with the remainder of the time for questions and discussion facilitated by Rep. Ribble.

Jane Severt, Executive Director of the Wisconsin County Forests Association in Rhinelander, WI, has been confirmed as a panelist and will address the effectiveness with which county forests are contributing to timber supply. Other confirmed panelists include Howard Hedstrom, President of Hedstrom Lumber in Grand Marais, MN, and Jon Lamy, Regional Manager for Louisiana Pacific Corporation in Sagola, MI.

A third panel on “Lawsuit Reform,” moderated by Rep. Bekishek, will take place from 11:10 am to 12:10 pm. Following five minutes of opening remarks by the member, panelists will be introduced to speak for five minutes each with the remainder of the time to be used for questions and discussion facilitated by Rep. Benishek.

Confirmed panelists include Gary Zimmer from Laona, WI, Regional Biologist from the Ruffed Grouse Society; and David Oberstar, an attorney with Fryberger, Buchanan, Smith & Frederick, in Duluth, MN. A yet to be identified speaker from Michigan will round out the panel.

Lunch will take place from 12:10 to 1:30 pm. Conference attendees will be on their own and information on local restaurants and eating establishments from the local Chamber of Commerce will be included in the conference materials. Arrangements have been made for an on-site luncheon with the members of Congress, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, and other representatives of the Forest Service.

Rep. Ribble will moderate the fourth and final panel on “Regulatory Reform” from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. He will open the panel with five minutes of remarks and will then introduce each of three additional panelists for five minutes each, followed by questions from the audience and discussion. Confirmed panelists include John Piotrowski, Environmental Manager for the Packaging Corporation of America in Tomahawk, WI, and Scott Robbins, Director of Forestry Initiatives for the Michigan Forest Products Council in White Pine, MI. A yet to be identified speaker from Minnesota will round out the panel.

The highlight of the conference will be remarks by U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell from 2:35 to 2:55 pm, followed by a listening session with the Chief from 2:55 to 3:55 pm.

The conference will conclude at 4:00 pm with a media availability for the members in attendance. In addition to responding to questions about the conference and forestry in general, the members will also announce the appointment of a multi-state, multi-Congressional District Forestry Advisory Council that will be convened for the purpose of providing advice and counsel to the four Representatives throughout the year and between conferences. Each Representative will be asked to name five members to the council from their respective Congressional Districts.

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