Walker issues state of emergency following series of storms in northwest WisconsinGov. Scott Walker issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in response to the thousands of acres of downed trees and debris following a severe windstorm in northwest Wisconsin last month.
Gov. Scott Walker issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in response to the thousands of acres of downed trees and debris following a severe windstorm in northwest Wisconsin last month.
The order directs state agencies to assist with the removal of 1 million to 2 million cords of blown down timber in Burnett, Douglas and Washburn Counties. A series of storms on July 1, July 19 and Aug. 1 devastated approximately 130,000 heavily wooded acres resulting in downed timber now in the right of ways and on other public and private lands.
“Wisconsin has not seen this magnitude of downed timber and debris from storms since 1977. The enormous task of removing this debris has exhausted local resources,” said Governor Walker. “If the timber is not salvaged, it could cause significant hazards this winter by impairing snow removal and it also increases the risks of major forest fires and damage to our precious North Woods.”
State officials warn the downed timber could also become infected with insects and diseases that could pose a threat to the property and environment. The high volume of timber also could cause financial problems for the state’s timber products industry. The downed timber has the potential to flood the industry’s market causing a rippling effect.
Last week, Gov. Walker viewed the damage and met with local and state officials and private industry leaders to discuss possible solutions. In the order, Walker orders the Departments of Natural Resources, Military Affairs, Revenue, Transportation, Tourism and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to work with local officials in developing plans, coordinating resources and assisting with the removal of the downed timber. The DNR has been tasked as the lead state agency for this emergency.
“I’m pleased that the governor has declared Washburn, Burnett and Douglas counties as a disaster area as a result of the extensive damage suffered from several devastating storms in July and August and that he has requested assistance from the National Guard in the clean up efforts. These historic storms damaged 136,000 acres of trees and left local communities facing an estimated $2.7 million in debris and clean up costs,” said Sen Bob Jauch, D-Poplar. “While the storms did not qualify the communities for federal disaster assistance, the state declaration will provide the tools and resources for these communities to protect public safety and reduce the risk of forest fires.”
The order also requests the Wisconsin National Guard to provide assistance to local authorities, if approved by the Department of Defense under a training mission.
Walker worked on the issue with State Senators Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, and Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, and State Rep Erik Severson, Nick Milroy, Roger Rivard, Janet Bewley and Jeff Mursau.