In the fight to protect the Pelican River Forest, Oneida County wants its say. County representatives are divided, with some in favor of the project and some adamantly against it.
The current situation, as WXPR previously reported, is that County Supervisor Robert Briggs introduced a resolution during a county board meeting calling for the county to oppose the easements to protect the Pelican River Forest, which would be funded through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Before voting on this resolution, the county board decided to form a committee to review and possibly amend the resolution. This was because of nearly unanimous public opposition to the resolution and the fact that it was riddled with errors.
The committee met for the first time on Monday, March 6 to discuss the project and look into the accuracy of information that has been shared to date. The committee will reconvene in April with the additional information gathered and is supposed to report back to the full county board in May regarding its stance on the resolution.
At previous county board meetings, the board heard public comments from people mostly in support of the Pelican River Forest who urged the county to hold more public hearings at times when more people could attend and provide input.
“More fundamental to all of this is our representative form of government at the county level. As I claim this county is tone-deaf. Here we are today listening to the vast majority of people in support. Therefore I agree with everyone else here: hold a public hearing, that’s all I ask. Listen to everybody and represent your constituents,” said Oneida County resident Dan Butkus.
Some Oneida County board members expressed frustration with the DNR about the lack of information provided and the amount of time local governments have to respond. Other reasons for the opposition to the project are that protection of the forest would result in less land available for potential property owners to purchase.
The majority of the public is in favor of the project. Protecting the Pelican River Forest would provide public access to the land, maintain sustainable logging operations, and ensure the permanent protection of the forest.
To show your support of the Pelican River Forest, take action here by telling lawmakers that you support conservation in Wisconsin.
Featured image by Ken Mattison, 2019.