Mission to Protect, Enhance Forests Strong in DNR Nurseries Consolidation Plan
For the City Times
The Department of Natural Resources’ seedling production will merge into a single operation at its Boscobel nursery under a reorganization plan to balance expected customer demand with production costs.
Wisconsin landowners will maintain their access to purchase native trees and shrubs for reforestation efforts through the Wilson State Nursery in southwest Grant County and many private nurseries throughout the state, Chief State Forester Paul DeLong said today when unveiling the plan.
“While seedlings will be grown at one nursery, the DNR still will meet the demand for trees for conservation work from both public and private landowners. And that’s thanks, in part, to a solid working relationship with private nurseries,” DeLong said. “Ensuring access to seedlings will help make sure Wisconsin’s forests remain healthy and the strong economic engine they are.”
Seedlings for planting are crucial to Wisconsin which boasts the nation’s largest forest products industry. “The benefits of planting these seedlings include job-creation, wildlife habitat and water quality,” DeLong said.
Carmen Hardin, DNR Bureau of Forest Management Science Section Chief, says both Griffith State Nursery in Wisconsin Rapids in central Wood County and Hayward State Nursery in northwest Sawyer County will continue serve as seedling distribution centers in 2015. “Wilson was picked instead of Griffith for a few reasons,” she said. “That includes the age of the facility, along with how much funding would be needed to maintain nursery infrastructure at Griffith. Cost-wise, Wilson is our best long term investment.”
The plan to consolidate seedling production at a single nursery originally was announced in March. Declining seedling sales previously prompted the DNR decision to grow native trees and shrubs at only two of the three nurseries for reforestation efforts. Seedling production stopped in 2011 at the Hayward State Nursery. DeLong also said in March the long-standing Arbor Day free seedling program for Wisconsin fourth graders will continue through the changes.
The State Nursery Program, established in 1911, also was renamed the Reforestation Program earlier this year to reflect a wider range of services and benefits including research and development projects and regeneration monitoring all related to reforestation efforts.
Hardin said staff structure will be reviewed during the coming year as the consolidation plan is implemented. A transition plan to handle existing stock and future uses at Griffith nursery also will be developed.
As part of the consolidation effort, the DNR last summer released a Request for Proposals for non-DNR groups interested in leasing portions of one or more of the state’s three nursery properties for reforestation and conservation purposes. DNR expects to maintain offices, storage buildings, and other critical functions at these properties under any potential leasing agreement.
Discussions are still pending on the outcome of the RFP and a decision may be announced early next year.