Contact(s): Carmen Hardin, 608-267-3139; Bill Cosh, 608-267-2773
The Department of Natural Resources is about to launch an idea round-up to gather brainstorms from anyone who wants to make sure Wisconsin's valuable forests stand tall as environmental and economic strongholds for decades.
And this pro-active move by one of the state's largest agencies is seeing the forest for the trees by focusing on what makes this resource grow - its non-profit seedling program.
"We want ideas from landowners, private businesses, conservationists and others who are either involved in or care about our future forests," DNR Chief State Forester Paul DeLong says of this mining of the minds. "This is important because these forests provide an array of values, including sustaining family-supporting jobs, recreation and a whole lot of wildlife. Our nurseries support tree planting for conservation purposes and the benefit of future generations."
U.S. Census figures show that Wisconsin forests support jobs approaching 60,000 in about 1,300 businesses.
The Wisconsin State Nursery Program includes three facilities - Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel, Griffith State Nursery in Wisconsin Rapids and the Hayward State Nursery in Hayward.
"Wisconsin's forests belong to everyone. We want to get the ideas from the best minds from government and the private sector," DeLong said. "This also will keep government very much in touch with how the private sector can not only be served by its government, but also how government can support these important businesses."
The Wisconsin State Nursery Program produces tree and shrub stock that serve a lot of purposes. Top of the list is to grow forest products and to create wildlife habitat for public and private landowners. The trees also provide windbreaks which are vital in stopping wind erosion. The nursery program avoids competition with private landscaping nurseries by growing only seedlings for reforestation purposes. It does not produce large trees or shrubs for ornamental purposes.
"The mission of the program is to ensure that Wisconsin landowners have access to high quality, native tree and shrub seedlings from local seed sources at economical prices for conservation purposes," DeLong says.
In 2012, the nursery program distributed nearly 5.9 million seedlings and shrubs to approximately 2,500 customers, down from 12.4 million seedlings in 2007. The program is expected to operate at a break-even level.
DeLong said a Request for Information will be issued soon. Its purpose will be to gather information from firms, groups, businesses, partnerships or individuals who have a vested interest in reforestation and who have suggestions to improve Wisconsin's state nursery program.
Responses will be used to strengthen the existing state nursery program and to find ways to continue providing high quality, native stock from local seed sources at economical prices for conservation purposes for the citizens of Wisconsin. "This is a way to gather information to see how we can help our valuable resource - our forests." DeLong said.