Miscellaneous Forestry Related News Items
Tree Tax is Doom of State Forests
March 22, 1927 - Ironwood Daily Globe
-Methods of the state and county taxation are forcing the destruction of Wisconsin’s forests. -The virgin timber is going – nothing can save it. -Selective cutting is impossible- made prohibitively expensive by this same tax system. -Cutover lands cannot be reforested- it would be too expensive. They must be thrown back to the townships for the counties to worry about. Laona,Wisconsin – The state of Wisconsin is taxing its forests out of existence. W.D. Connor, Sr., millionaire lumberman of Forest County, formerly lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, made this statement during a frank interview in Laona, headquarters of his lumber interests that include timbering operations on thousands of acres of land, and management of a railroad. “Taxes are so high that we are forced to cut every stick of timber as fast as we can. Whether lumber is cut or not, the taxes run on and continue to increase,” he said. “I don’t want to destroy the forests. I consider Forest County the most beautiful country in Wisconsin – at present. I try not to think what it will be 20 or 30 years from now.” Forced to Cut Clean – The chief income of Forest county townships is the real estate on lumber lands. In some cases it is the only source of income. Cut-over land is taxed at only a fraction of the rate applied to virgin timber land. When timbering operations are conducted on part of a township, the income decreases. The obvious remedy, and the one practiced at present, is to boost the tax rate on the remaining timber in the township. In self defense, the lumber company is forced to sweep a township clean, when it once starts. That is why the county is being denuded, as Mr. Connor explained it. That is why thousands of acres of Forest county lands are at the present time, nothing but a bare expanse of stumps, piled with debris of timbering operations, ready for a chance spark to start a devastating fire. “They ask why lumber companies don’t practice reforestation, selective cutting: why we leave these acres of bare cut-over land. They blame the companies. Why not lay the blame where it belongs – on the state? On the tax system that makes reforestation prohibitively expensive?” There are two reasons why reforestation is not practiced, as explained by Mr. Connor – taxes and inadequate fire protection. The system of selective cutting provides for cutting of everything over eight inches, and then cutting in later years, as the remaining timber reaches eight inches. This is dependent on fire protection. After cutting, the company can scatter the slashings – the trimmed branches – over the ground, instead of piling them, so that the fire hazard will be less. But this is of little value, if further protection is not afforded. This protection, Mr. Connor charges, is not given. New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan give protection to their forests he says. Wisconsin does not. What has the company to gain, he asks, if it passes up the immediate profit to be gained by cutting over the land, when chances are great that the growing forest will be swept by fire before another cutting can be made? Reforestation has been suggested. “We want to practice reforestation,” Mr. Connor said. “It is obvious that that any lumber company would jump at the chance to insure a steady income from a new forest, after the original has been cut down. We estimate that our present timber will last for 20 or 30 years. If, at the end of that time, a new forest were to have grown, it would be a good thing for the companies and the state.” “Under the present tax system, we would be paying an increasingly heavy tax on this land for the 20 years the trees would be growing. By the time we would be ready to cut, the profits would be eaten up.” The remedy? There are two, according to Mr. Connor. A tax on timber only when it is cut, would save the present virgin forests, encourage selective cutting and promote reforestation. Such a law could not be passed at the present time, Mr. Connor thinks. It s for this reason that the virgin forests are doomed. There is another remedy and a more practicable one. “We will start reforestation on one condition,” he said. “Let the state enact legislation providing for a single, standard tax on reforested wood- lands. Let us know definitely how much we will have to pay on each acre every year, until the forests are ready to cut. Then – when the timber is ready to cut – impose a tax on such timber as is taken from the land. Under those conditions and under no others will timber companies practice reforestation. Unless some such legislation is provided, the state will be denuded of timber in 20 to 30 years. “It would be absurd for us to start new forests at the present time”, he explained, “when it is practically certain that such forests, while growing, would be made to carry the tax burden of the rest of the county. Tell us what we will have to pay and we will reforest.” The Connor Land and Lumber Company is holding somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 acres of cut-over land at the present time – hoping against hope that legislation will be provided. “We have watched other companies throw their cut-over lands back on the counties. We have watched counties verging on toward bankruptcy, with thousands of acres of cut-over lands, but with no money.” “We have tried to sell this land to small farmers, but we sell hardly one or two farms a year. The land is pioneer land, too hard to farm for the average farmer. It is not growing any thing. At the present time it is good for nothing in the world but forests. We will grow forests, but we must know that we will get a fair return on our lands.” “We are attempting reforestation on a small scale, along state highways in some places, in an effort to retain some of the beauty of the country. In other places we are avoiding cutting trees along the roads. But reforestation on a large scale is impossible.”
May 7, 1927 from the Sheboygan Press.
One of the first lumber companies in northern Wisconsin to begin on a program of reforestation is the Connor Lumber company at Laona, which recently set out more 1,000 small pine, spruce and bass trees. Plans are being made by the company to reforest each year from 40 to 60 acres of cut-over land near Laona.
Decide on Question of Federal Forests
February 15, 1928 - Ironwood Daily Globe (AP)
Crandon, WI – The Forest County board, meeting Tuesday voted to submit the question of establishing a federal forest in the county to the resident taxpayers at the April election. The action was taken on the motion of W.D. Connor, Jr., chairman of the Town of Laona, site of the Connor Lumber and Land Company. The Board was unanimous in its opinion that the county wants a forest of some kind and that it realized the menace of delinquent cut-over lands. Members of the Board who are in direct contact with situation, however failed to approve of the federal forest plan whereby the county will receive 25 per cent of the gross revenue of timber cut on the reforested lands. On the other hand, advocates of the federal forest plan deemed delinquent land of no use to the county. Mr. Connor suggested that the forest crop law be extended to all cut-over lands to be taken over from the county and reforested by the state. The plan would call for payment of ten cents per acre each year by the state to the county. Members of the Board said they had been swamped with protests made by their constituents, against the federal plan. They declared that farmers and business men who saw 140,000 acres about to be taken off the tax rolls realized that the burden of carrying on the business of the county would fall on the taxpayers.
Oppose Connor Plan
January 12, 1931 from the Ironwood Daily Globe.
Wabeno, WI - Opposition was voiced by taxpayers of the towns of Laona, Blackwell and Wabeno today to the applications of the Connor Lumber and Land company to enter about 22,400 acres of forest lands under the forest crop law. They contend this action would withdraw from the tax roll about two-thirds of all timber land Forest county. A hearing has been ordered January 19 by the conservation commission.
(new) Accepts Land For Entry Under Forest Crop Law of State
February 16, 1931 from the Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh)
Madison, WI (AP) The state conservation commission Saturday accepted 139,355 acres of land for entry under the forest crop law. Acceptance of this land brings the total under the law to 420,000 acres. Land from 27 counties was accepted by the commission today, the largest piece being the Marinette county forest unit consisting of 59,539 acres. The second largest tract was the 21,000 acres owned by the Connor Lumber and Land company, of Laona. Under the forest crop law the state and the owner of the land each pay 10 cents per acre annually to the town treasurer. The lands remain under the provisions of the law until a new crop of timber is grown. Two applications for entry of land were rejected because they failed to comply with the intent of the law, the commission said.
Advisory Group Is Appointed On Timber Industry
August 31, 1931 from the Sheboygan Press.
Oconto, WI. (AP) - Announcement of an advisory committee of five appointed by Governor Phillip F. LaFollette to cooperate with a committee representing lumber manufacturers seeking to equalize production and employment in the industry is expected within a few days. W.A. Holt, president of the Holt Lumber company, and chairman of the lumberman's committee Saturday announced the following to serve on the committee: C.A. Goodman, Marinette; W.W. Gamble , Wausau; J.D. Mylrea, Rhinelander; M.P. McCullough, Schofield; W.D. Connor Jr., Laona, and C.J. Kinzel, Merrill. Holt said the plan informally agreed upon would fix lumber production for the year ending July 1, 1932, on a basis of 28 per cent of the annual average output for the last three years. When market conditions change, he said, the committee would be empowered to alter production figures.
March 30, 1933 from the Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh)
Laona, Wisconsin (UP) - Tapping maple trees has caused such heavy damage to timber that the Connor Lumber company here has issued a warning prohibiting sap gathering in its forest tracts unless a written permit is secured.
March 12, 1936 from the Ironwood Daily Globe
A resident of Lakewood raises a question for the Wisconsin conservation commission to answer. In a pamphlet on the forest crop law, it is set forth that "No merchantable timber can be entered " under the state arrangement whereby a tax of only 10 cents an acre is paid. Yet the Connor Lumber and Land Company of Laona was permitted to enter 10 sections of timber land under the forest crop law regulations. Judge Murphy ruled against such an arrangement, however, when the town of Wabeno took it to court. The Lakewood resident wants to know whether the conservation commission knew the land was covered with timber or whether it was entered through misinterpretation. Further, he would like to know if other companies in Wisconsin have entered timber land for reforestation.
Reforestation Must Continue If Wood Industry Is to Survive
February 13, 1946 from the Ironwood Daily Globe (AP)
Wausau, Wisconsin - Representatives of the Wisconsin wood-use industry agreed yesterday that their $400,000,000 business cannot survive unless it continues reforestation and sound conservation practices. This was the consensus of opinion among leaders of the paper mill, lumbering and kindred industries who attended a forestry conference called by the Wisconsin conservation commission. About 100 men attended the meeting. Major recommendations by these men were: - Legislation to restrict the cutting of undersized timber. - Continuation of the commission's fire protection system, with added protection if possible. - Reduction of the 10-cent per acre tax on land registered under the forest crop law. Under this law timber owners pay the state 10-cents per acre on forest land that they agree not to cut. - Continuation of the commission's program of supply trees for reforestation. - Restrictions on the use of fire lanes for fire protection. - Additional research by the federal and state governments into tree disease. Cooperation was pledged to the commission in anything it does to aid industrial forest development by all who spoke. Folcke Becker, president of the Rhinelander Paper Company, told the meeting that unless the industry engages in sound conservation practices it soon would be without timber. He warned that in a few years Canada might prohibit exportation of timber from its woods and unless Wisconsin wood users prepared for that day they would be out of business. S.B. Bugge, president of the Tomahawk-Kraft Company, Tomahawk, advocated legislation to restrict the cutting of undersized timber. F.G. Kilp, of the Nekoosa-Edwards company, Wisconsin Rapids, also suggested such legislation. Commissioner William J.P. Aberg told the meeting that legislation was drawn by the commission last year to restrict the cutting of undersized timber, but it was defeated. He said similar legislation would be drafted next year and invited woodsmen to help prepare it. Richard M. Connor, of the Connor Lumber Company, Laona, was the only speaker to oppose restricted cutting. He said it would work a hardship on small land and timber owners. C.A. McClaren, of Tomahawk Kraft Company, spoke in favor of a cut in the forest crop tax. He was supported in this by Bugge. H.S. Orosby, of Oshkosh, who represented the Northern Hemlock and Hardware association, and Norman Stone, of Mosinee Paper Company, Mosinee, pledged cooperation to the commission. A report on the industrial forests in Wisconsin was made by F.G. Wilson, of the conservation department, who declared that seven wood- using industries in Wisconsin hold 322,119 acres on which sound forest management was being applied. "With figures from one of the larger operations not included," he said, "the record shows that 22,664,000 trees have been planted in industrial forests in Wisconsin. This effort has placed Wisconsin first among the states in forest planting by industry." Wilson said, also, that while no figures were available, he was of the opinion that more damage was done annually by deer and rabbits than by forest fires. Wilson also advocated a federal experimental station in Wisconsin to engage in research on tree diseases. Several other speakers also advocated such a station.