Republicans Want to Increase Logging in State Forests at Behest of Papermakers and Timber Interests

May 26, 2015

GOP lawmakers have inserted a plan in the proposed 2015-17 state budget that would increase timber-cutting on thousands of acres of state forests at the request of papermaking and logging interests.

The plan was pushed by Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst and Rep. Mary Czaja of Irma, who are top recipients of campaign contributions from both special interest groups. The proposal would require the Department of Natural Resources to open up about 37,500 additional acres to timber cutting in the Brule River, Black River, Coulee, Peshtigo River, Northern Highland American Legion, and Flambeau River state forests, which already have 296,775 acres designated for logging.

Democrats objected that the proposal affected popular state forests and had no public input or scrutiny because it was introduced without notice and approved the same day earlier this month by the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. The committee’s revisions to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget will be considered by the legislature in June and then go back to the governor for final approval.

The logging and papermaking industries contributed nearly $279,000 between January 2011 and Oct. 20, 2014, to candidates for statewide office and the legislature. During that period, Tiffany accepted $8,425 and Czaja accepted $2,640 in individual and political action committee contributions from the two special interest groups.

Top contributors from the papermaking and logging industries to Tiffany between January 2011 and Oct. 20, 2014, were Richard Connor, of Laona, retired president of Nicolet Hardwoods, $1,900; Richard Krawze, of Laona, a Pine River Lumber executive, $1,400; San Orr, of Wausau, a retired Wausau Paper executive, $1,000; and the Forestry and Paper Products PAC, $1,000.

Top papermaker and logging industry contributions to Czaja between January 2011 and Oct. 20, 2014, came from Connor, $500; William E. Johnson, of Hayward, owner of Johnson Timber Corp., $500; and Peter Sturgul, of Tomahawk, a Packaging Corp. of America manager, and his wife, Nancy, $300.