Forestry Mill Tax Needs Your Help!

Budget Update – Efforts to Save the Mill Tax

Last week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) concluded their public hearings across the state.  I’d like to thank all of you who came out to share your thoughts on the Governor’s Budget Proposal.  It’s crucial for the Committee to hear what’s important to the folks who live up north.

The next step in the budget process is the JFC will begin voting on provisions in the Governor’s budget.  The committee can decide to keep, modify, or delete provisions.  One provision I’m working very hard to get removed from the budget is related to the States Forestry Mill Tax.

The Governor has proposed eliminating the tax and instead provide General Purpose Revenue (GPR) for forestry operations.  I think this could be detrimental to our Forestry Industry.  Up in the Northwoods we all understand how vital a sustainable healthy forest is.  I think it gets lost on folks south of us that Forestry is the second largest contributor to our state’s economy and provides more than 64,000 jobs. Since 1930, we’ve had a secure funding source (the Forestry Mill tax) and this is a huge reason why our forests are so healthy and the envy of many other states.

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Forestry Account Revenue & Expenditures FY 2016

Members have been asking, what does the Forestry Mill Tax pay for?

Funds raised through the Forestry Mill Tax are deposited in the DNR Conservation Fund under the Forestry Account.  The DNR Forestry Account Revenue and Expenditures for fiscal year 2016 have been released.  The Forestry Account shows revenues of $118,289,789 with total state and federal expenditures of $113,628,313.  The Forestry Mill Tax provided a revenue of $83,306,027.

Review the report to read details on revenue and expenditures.

Read the additional posts below to learn more about the Forestry Mill Tax.

Joint Committee on Finance Announces Budget Bill Public Hearings

The Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) will hold public hearings on the Governor’s 2017-19 Biennial Budget – Assembly Bill 64/Senate Bill 30 – which contain the provisions to remove the Forestry Mill Tax.  WWOA and other conservation organizations strongly oppose the removal of the Forestry Mill Tax funding in the state budget because it places Wisconsin’s nationally recognized forests and their resulting benefits at great risk.  We also know this will be a tight budgeting year.  If the legislature approves the Forestry Mill Tax provisions as written in the budget, the forestry account will be added to General Purpose Revenue (GPR) expenditures at a cost of $181 million.

Public Hearing Dates and Locations

Monday, April 3  10 am – 5 pm  UW – Platteville, Ullsvick Hall, 30 South Hickory St, Platteville

Wednesday, April 5  10 am – 5 pm  State Fair Pk – Exposition Ctr, 8200 W Greenfield Ave, West Allis

Friday, April 7  10 am – 5 pm  Berlin HS Auditorium, 222 Memorial Dr, Berlin

Tuesday, April 18  10 am – 6 pm  Spooner HS Auditorium, 801 Co Hwy A, Spooner

Wednesday, April 19  10 am – 5 pm  Ellsworth HS Gymnasium, 323 W Hillcrest St, Ellsworth

Friday, April 21  10 am – 5 pm  Marinette HS Auditorium, 2135 Pierce Ave, Marinette

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Wisconsin Forests at Risk without Forestry Mill Tax

The Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association authored the following coalition letter to share information about the Forestry Mill Tax’s 2017-19 budget provisions with Wisconsin’s citizens and legislators.

An Open Letter to Wisconsin citizens and legislators,

Wisconsin forests are at risk in the 2017-19 state budget proposal, which removes the designated stable funding of the Forestry Mill Tax.  We strongly oppose the removal of this funding, which supports Wisconsin’s conservation traditions and the state’s second most important economic sector.

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Forestry Mill Tax vs GPR

To Members of the Wisconsin Forestry Community,

No doubt you’re aware of the Governor’s proposal to replace the funding that has been generated through our Forestry Mill Tax since 1930 with what is proposed to be an equal amount of General Purpose Revenue (GPR).  In any of the discussions I’ve had with forestry stakeholders about this I’ve heard strong concerns and a variety of opinions, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest we’d be better off if funding for forestry was significantly reduced.  If significant reductions in forestry revenue and all the programs that revenue supports are desirable, than eliminating the Mill Tax and replacing it with General Purpose Revenue makes perfect sense.  Anyone who believes it’s important to maintain stable funding for forestry should recognize the elimination of the Mill Tax as the biggest threat to Wisconsin’s forestry success story in a generation.

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More information on the Forestry Account in the State Budget

The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau publishes  informational papers  on various aspects of the state budget. The Conservation Fund  paper is a 96 page document detailing revenue and expenditures related to natural resources.  Information on the Forestry Account starts on page 26 of this larger document or the select Forestry Account  to learn  more about this aspect of the state budget.  Data provided in this document is based on fiscal year 2014-15 revenue and expenditures along with estimates for fiscal year 2015-16. 

Private Woodland Owners Stand to Lose Big if Forestry Mill Tax is Eliminated in Wisconsin Budget – Make your views known to your Wisconsin Senators and Representatives Today

Governor Walker’s budget bill includes shifting funding for the DNR Forestry Program from the Forestry Mill Tax to general purpose revenues (GPR) for the 2017-2019 biennium.  This shift will jeopardize the stable funding source, which has supported the DNR Forestry Program and may place DNR Forestry and its 100 years of forestry accomplishments at risk.

The Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association strongly opposes the elimination of the Forestry Mill Tax.  We encourage private woodland owners and those interested in sustainable forestry to make your views known to your Wisconsin legislators.  To find or contact your legislator, then in the upper right hand corner input your address and select Find My Legislator.

The DNR Forestry Program has been an important partner with the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association (WWOA) since WWOA’s founding in 1979.  Most WWOA members and many other private landowners have benefitted from services provided by their DNR Forester at one point in time or another.

If the DNR Forestry Program has to compete for GPR funding with other programs in state government, ask yourself could the possible reduction or elimination of the DNR Forestry Program impact you as a private woodland owner?

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DNR Forestry Program Funding Jeopardized by Governor’s Budget


The DNR Forestry Program has been an important partner with the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association since WWOA’s founding in 1979.  Governor Walker’s budget proposal to eliminate the Wisconsin Forestry Mil Tax and shift DNR Forestry funding to general purpose revenues (GPR) will jeopardize this stable funding source which has supported the DNR Forestry Program for almost 100 years.  WWOA strongly opposes the elimination of the Forestry Mil Tax and encourages those interested in the stewardship of our natural resources to make your views known to your Wisconsin legislators.

The Forestry Mil Tax is the only tax stipulated in the Wisconsin Constitution and is equally levied on all property tax payers.  It was developed in 1924 to promote sound forestry practices and improve the ecological, economic, and quality of life effects on the state and its citizens.

This funding source, dedicated to acquiring, preserving and developing the forests of the state, has provided the stability needed to address the long-term nature of forestry and forestry related industry.  The Forestry Mil Tax supports DNR services such as the private forestry program, fire protection, assistance to the county forests, forest health, urban forestry and forest marketing and utilization.  It also helps fund Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and many other valuable conservation activities. As a result, Wisconsin’s forests have been restored from a decimated condition to the productive and healthy forests the State has today.

If the Forestry Mil Tax is replaced by GPR, it will open the door to biennial budget reductions for DNR forestry and conservation efforts that will almost certainly subject one of the best programs in the nation to the same program erosion seen in other states.  Forestry will find it difficult to compete with the more immediate needs of other state programs resulting in the failure to manage and protect the forests of the State, thus repeating history.  Revisiting these conditions, along with the time, expense, and effort to restore our forests would surely not be in the interest of the citizens of Wisconsin or the forest industry.


Conservation Congress Hearings set for Monday, April 10

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress will will hold its election of county delegates in each county. Upon completion of the delegate elections, the joint Spring Department of Natural Resources Rule and Informational Hearing and Conservation Congress County Meeting will convene on Monday, April 10, 2017.

These meetings are held in each county across Wisconsin starting at 7:00 pm.

This year’s advisory questions range from the usual fish and wildlife hunting dates and limits to larger environmental issues such as Frac Sand Mining, Iron Mining, CAFOs and High Capacity Wells.  Attendees are encouraged to review the numerous advisory questions prior to arriving at the meeting.


Zaug Condolences

WWOA Past President Dale Zaug, Marion – passed away January 18, 2017.  Zaug served on WWOA’s Board of Directors from 2002-2008.  He served as Vice President from 2003-05, President from 2005-07 and Past President at 2007-08.