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State looks to past resolution for timber management in Northwoods (UPDATE)

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — Environmental activists say they plan to take a page from a past resolution in their effort to work with pro-business factions and resolve a longtime dispute over timber management in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

Northern Wisconsin activists hope to mimic the success of a strategy used by Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark Corp. to reach a collaborative agreement on a material the company used that came from Canadian forests, Post-Crescent Media reported.

“Kimberly-Clark and Greenpeace is a great example for us,” said Paul Strong, forest supervisor at the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. “They realized that a collaborative agreement is much better than controversy.”

The Northeast Wisconsin Forest Improvement Collaborative, which Strong is a part of, is seeking to broker a compromise regarding 1.5 million acres of forest that will please both logging advocates and environmental groups. It’s aiming to attract investors to subsidize federal money, highlight the benefits of forest management and coordinate restoration projects.

Forest County Potawatomi Forester Al Murray facilitates the group that brings together industry, local officials and environmental advocates.

“The goal is to get groups together that don’t traditionally agree and find some common ground,” Murray said. “We’re excited to meet with interest groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation that hold large contracts and can help us with oak management since it affects turkey habitat.”

Chequamegon-Nicolet has already partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wisconsin’s Economic Development Corp. and clothing retailer Lands’ End to increase forest management, harvest activities and reforesting efforts.

U.S. senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson also plan to work together until a solution is reached among loggers, recreational forest users and forest officials.

“I look at this with skepticism when the roadblock is ‘We don’t have enough money,'” Johnson said. “I think everyone involved in the forest has admitted that we have a problem and many of us are committed to finding solutions.”

Information from: Post-Crescent Media, http://www.postcrescent.com

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