Madison — Today Governor Walker visited the northwest region of Wisconsin to follow up on the ongoing efforts to cleanup fallen timber due to multiple storms.
“I’d like to thank the local elected officials, hardworking state employees at numerous agencies, the Wisconsin National Guard, state legislators from the area and other interested parties for coming together to take decisive action to help deal with this massive blow down,” said Governor Walker. “After surveying the cleanup effort today I was truly amazed by the good work being done to repair the damage done by storms over the summer.”
Following the powerful July 1st wind storm and subsequent storms that toppled trees in more than 130,000 acres in six northern Wisconsin counties, the Wisconsin National Guard and the state of Wisconsin deployed approximately 64 Soldiers from the 724th Engineer Battalion to use their military skills and equipment to clear rights of way tangled with branches, limbs and tree trunks. Local governments had cleared roadways of the fallen timber, but lacked the capability to clear the rights of ways, which are a fire hazard and public safety concern. There have also been outstanding collaborative efforts of State, County and Private foresters in establishing sales; as well as an incredible amount of work by loggers in the affected area with buying, cutting and moving wood.
In addition to these efforts the DNR has 76 staff members working on the incident, invested over $69,000 in new aerial photography since the storm occurred in order to more accurately map individual landownership impacted by the storm and create maps that show where high hazard fire areas are to effectively plan emergency responses, drafted a wildland fire suppression plan, contacted landowners urging them to protect their properties from fires, and worked with municipalities to help them complete urban forestry catastrophic storm grant applications.
The Department of Transportation has evaluated State Highways for structure and pavement concerns, identified preferred routes for temporary use in hauling heavy loads out of the blow down area to mills and railroad transfer sites, estimated potential local road damage and repair costs associated with timber removal, identified programs that could potentially be used to assist locals with cost related to damaged routes from hauling, and is in the process of implementing a proposal for increased weight limits for hauling in the blown down area.