2018 NRCS Conservation Local Work Group Meeting Schedule Announced

Madison, Wis. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Wisconsin has announced the schedule for 2018 Local Working Group (LWG) meetings. Eighteen meetings will be held across Wisconsin in August to gather input and help set priorities for U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs under the Farm Bill.

“Local Working Groups offer a seat at the table for interested individuals and groups to advise NRCS on how best to set priorities and locally implement conservation programs,” said Angela Biggs, Wisconsin State Conservationist. “Members are diverse, with an interest and focus on local agriculture and various natural resource issues,” added Biggs. Farmers representing a variety of crops and livestock raised within the local area, private woodland owners, representatives of agricultural and environmental organizations, and representatives of other agriculture and natural resource agencies are welcome and should be represented.

Wisconsin LWGs represent two or more counties grouped together by geography, similar land use, resources, and type of agriculture. See a map of Local Working Groups. This will allow greater flexibility and access to funding for the groups.

One of the main programs discussed at the meetings will be the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a federal conservation program that helps agricultural producers in a manner that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. EQIP offers technical and financial assistance to help landowners with needed conservation practices for water quality, soil health, wildlife and other natural resources. The program was re-authorized through 2018 in the federal Farm Bill, which was passed in February 2014.

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USDA Resumes Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment

One-Year Extension Available to Holders of Many Expiring Contracts through Continuous Signup

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2018 – As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office between June 4 and Aug. 17, 2018.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is an important component of the suite of voluntary conservation programs USDA makes available to agricultural producers, benefiting both the land and wildlife. On the road, I often hear firsthand how popular CRP is for our recreational sector; hunters, fishermen, conservationists and bird watchers,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “CRP also is a powerful tool to encourage agricultural producers to set aside unproductive, marginal lands that should not be farmed to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health.”

FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup (excluding applications for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands). This pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 24 million-acre CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill. New limited practice availability and short sign up period helps ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently is about 22.7 million acres.

2018 Signup for CRP

For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. To view a full list of practices, please visit the CRP Continuous Enrollment Period page.

FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup.

USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more information.

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2018 Omnibus Bill Nixes DUNS and SAM Requirements for Farmers

Madison, Wis. ‒ April 23, 2018 ‒ Effectively immediately, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) financial assistance program participants will no longer need a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Number System (DUNS) number, or to register in the System for Award Management (SAM). The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (2018 Omnibus Bill), signed by President Donald Trump on March 23, eliminated these requirements.

According to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, DUNS and SAM were designed for billion-dollar government contractors, not everyday farmers trying to support their families. These changes help streamline the customer experience of farmers, which is a top priority at USDA, he said.

“This change greatly simplifies the contracting process for our customers and staff,” said Angela Biggs, Wisconsin State Conservationist. “Conservation program participants will soon receive letters from their local NRCS office with more details.”

The exemption does not apply to any current or future agreements or federal contracts with eligible entities, project sponsors, vendors, partners, or other non-exempt landowners or producers.

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Results of 2018 Spring Fish & Wildlife Rules Hearings

On Monday, April 9 there were 72 public hearings held simultaneously across the state in each county. The hearings, held annually on the second Monday in April, are combined with the county meetings during which attendees can introduce and vote on citizen resolutions to address natural resources related issues. The spring hearings covered three major areas: elections for county Conservation Congress delegates; DNR wildlife and fisheries ideas for potential rule changes; and Conservation Congress proposals for future rule development. The spring 2018 questionnaire, which explains the questions in more detail, can be found here.

RESULTS
  • To view the 2018 Spring Hearing Statewide Results click here
  • To view the 2018 Spring Hearing Results by County click here
  • To view the 2018 Spring Citizen Resolution Results click here

County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) Meetings

Contact: Maggie Stewart608-261-7588
Detailed information: County Deer Advisory Council will review data and form preliminary 2017 antlerless harvest quota, permit level and season structure recommendations. County contacts

Monday, March 12

Douglas County – 6 p.m., Douglas County Government Center (Courthouse), 1316 N 14th St.,Superior
Vernon County – 6 p.m., Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center, S3661 S. 131, La Farge
Walworth County – 7 p.m., Advia Credit Union, 837 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn
Door County – 7 p.m., Door County Courthouse, 421 Nebraska St., Sturgeon Bay
Fond du Lac County – 7 p.m., City County Government Building, Rooms G and H, 160 S. Macy St., Fond du Lac
Forest County – 7 p.m., Crandon Fire House, 910 N, Lake Ave., Crandon
Green County – 7 p.m., Green County Justice Center, 2841 6th St., Room: Lower level conference rooms, Monroe
Lafayette County – 7 p.m., Darlington Elementary School, 11630 Center Hill Road, Darlington
Racine County – 7 p.m., Sturtevant Government Building, 9531 Rayne Rd., Sturtevant
St. Croix County – 7 p.m., Baldwin DNR Service Center, 890 Spruce St., Baldwin

Tuesday, March 13

Manitowoc County – 6 p.m., Viking Bow and Gun Club, 13431 Rusch Rd., Valders
Iron County – 6 p.m., Mercer Town Hall, 2657 Railroad St., Mercer
Menominee County – 6 p.m., Menominee County Courthouse (lower level boardroom), W3269 Courthouse Ln., Keshena
Ashland County – 6:30 p.m., Ashland DNR Service Center, 2501 Golf Course Road, Ashland
Crawford County – 6:30 p.m., Prairie Du Chien City Hall Conference Room, 214 East Blackhawk Ave., Prairie Du Chien
Juneau County – 6:30 p.m., Mauston Library, 111 W. State St.Mauston
Brown County – 7 p.m., Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, 1600 E Shore Drive., Green Bay
Dane County – 7 p.m., Fitchburg DNR Service Center, 3911 Fish hatchery Road, Fitchburg
Dodge County  – 7 p.m., Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center, N7725 Hwy 28, Horicon
Iowa County – 7 p.m., DNR Service Center, 1500 North Johns St., Dodgeville
Jefferson County – 7 p.m., UW-Extension Office, Rm. 8 & 9, 864 Collins Rd., Jefferson
La Crosse County – 7 p.m., La Crosse DNR Service Center, 3550 Mormon Coulee Road., La Crosse
Marathon County – 7 p.m., Marathon County Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, 212 River Dr., Wausau
Price County – 7 p.m., Price County Courthouse, County Board Room, 126 Cherry St., Phillips
Richland County – 7 p.m., East Hall, UW-Richland, 1200 Hwy 14, Richland Center
Trempealeau County – 7 p.m., Independence City Hall, 23688 Adams St.Independence
Waushara County – 7 p.m., Waushara County Courthouse Room 263, 209 S. St. Marie St.,Wautoma

Wednesday, March 14

Rock County – 7 p.m., Janesville DNR Service Center, DNR Conference Room, 2514 Morse St.,Janesville
Sheboygan County – 7 p.m., Camp Y-Koda, W3340 Sunset Rd., Sheboygan Falls
Vilas County – 7 p.m., Boulder Junction Community Center, 5392 Park St. (HWY M), Boulder Junction
Washburn County – 7 p.m., Spooner High School, 801 Cty Hwy A, Spooner
Waukesha County – 7 p.m., DNR Service Center Rm. 151, 141 NW Barstow St., Waukesha
Wood County – 7 p.m., Sand Hill Wildlife Area Skills Center, 1715 County Hwy X, Babcock

Thursday, March 15

Bayfield County – 6 p.m., Bayfield County Courthouse, 117 E. Fifth St., Washburn
Pepin County – 6 p.m., Pepin County Government Center, 740 7th Ave. W, Durand
Outagamie County – 7 p.m., Outagamie Conservation Club, N3502 Mayflower Road, Hortonville
Pierce County – 7 p.m., Ellsworth High School Library, 323 Hillcrest St.Ellsworth

2018 Spring Fish and Wildlife Rules Hearings

Contact(s): Kari Lee-Zimmermann – 608-266-0580

MADISON – The questionnaire package for the 2018 Department of Natural Resources spring fish and wildlife public hearing and annual Conservation Congress county meeting and the list of meeting locations is now available for review on the Department of Natural Resources website.

On Monday, April 9, there will be 72 public hearings, one in each Wisconsin county starting at 7 p.m. where people interested in natural resources management have an opportunity to provide their input by non-binding vote and testimony to the DNR and the Conservation Congress on proposed natural resource related advisory questions that may impact future rule changes.

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2015-2016 Wisconsin Council on Forestry Biennial Report

The Wisconsin Council on Forestry Biennial Report for 2015-2016 can now be viewed. The Council is a board composed of individuals that represent all areas of forestry in Wisconsin. They advise the Governor, the Legislature, Department of Natural Resources, and other state agencies on aspects of forestry in the state.

The 34-page report covers accomplishments of the board, items the Council advised the Division of Forestry on, statistics about Wisconsin’s forests (including forested area, species composition, age class, volume, growth, the urban forest, forest health, ownership, incentives, etc.), economic opportunities and development, effects of state and local government laws, recommendations on staffing and funding for forestry programs, and raising the public’s knowledge and awareness of forestry issues.

It is a great snapshot of forestry in the state. You can find past biennial reports here

Updated Forest Tax Rates

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released the new tax rates for use in 2018 through 2022 for land in the Managed Forest Law (MFL). These new tax rates are effective January 1, 2018.

The updated MFL tax rates saw an all around decrease. Open land entered before 2005 saw a decrease of 5¢ to $0.74 per acre. Closed land entered before 2005 dropped 12¢ to $1.75 per acre. Open land entered after 2004 decreased 10¢ to $2.04 per acre. Lastly, closed land entered after 2004 saw a reduction of 38¢ to $10.68 per acre.

Land in Forest Crop Law (FCL) will have the same tax rates in 2018. The current FCL tax rates were recalculated in 2012 and are effective until 2022. They are scheduled to be recalculated in 2022.

Annual Forest Tax Law Program Harvest Tax Rates

Annually, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Forestry Tax Law Section gathers stumpage values paid on privately-owned timber sales from lands enrolled in the Managed Forest Law and the Forest Crop Law programs throughout Wisconsin. Stumpage values are reported mainly by private-sector Cooperating Foresters with additional values reported by DNR Foresters. The stumpage values gathered indicate the value of standing timber on those specific stands at time of harvest.

With the passage of Act 358, the collection of yield taxes on MFL timber sales, and severance taxes on FCL timber sales was abolished.
The Department will continue to calculate annual stumpage values for use in the assessment of MFL withdrawal taxes in some limited circumstances and for determining penalty amounts for cutting merchantable timber in violation of s. 77.86 (and s. 77.06) Wis. Stats.

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Governor announces location of WI DNR State Forestry Headquarters

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker announced today that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources state forestry headquarters will be relocating to the DNR Rhinelander Service Center by the first of next year.

As outlined in the 2017-2019 state budget, signed by the Governor September 21st, the Chief State Forester will move to the DNR-owned facility north of Highway 29 by January 1, 2018.  Over the next year, other forestry positions, currently located in Madison, will move to Rhinelander or locations north of State Highway 29 in phases.

“This move will put the Division of Forestry and its leadership in a better position to work with the primary forest industries in the state,” said Governor Walker in making the announcement today in Rhinelander. “We will also be able to work more closely with our forestry industry partners in growing the state’s $24.7 billion forest industry that already generates nearly 65,000 jobs.”

Following the Chief State Forester’s move, other members of the forestry leadership team will also be in the Rhinelander headquarters by the first of next year.

“The DNR is looking forward to the opportunity of better serving the area where most of the state’s timber industry is located,” said DNR Secretary Dan Meyer. “Together with partners such as the U.S. Forest Service, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and the Wisconsin County Forest Association, we can better support and serve a thriving industry that is so important to our state’s economy.”

Every million dollars of output in the forestry industry creates $731,000 of output in other sectors. Every job in forestry supports 1.7 additional jobs in the state. Forestry is the number one employer in 10 counties.