Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), announced Tuesday that more than $319,000 in state funds will pave the way to better roads in in 24 Wisconsin counties over 900 miles of road.
“Wisconsin’s county forests cover more than 2.4 million acres and are home to thousands of campsites, hundreds of miles of trails, and countless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors,” said Gov. Evers.
“Fixing the forest roads ensures folks from across our state can continue to access these public lands, recreate, and enjoy and appreciate Wisconsin’s natural resources,” Gov. Evers added.
Back in May of 2015, then Governor Scott Walker and state Republicans agreed to cut more than $4.5 million annually from the state’s parks funding and began cutting down trees for pennies on the dollar.
As a result, Wisconsin now ranks last in the nation for funding state parks, according to National Association of State Parks Directors who said Wisconsin State Park funding was the lowest in the country.
Previously under Governor Walker, the State of Wisconsin sold off 72 acres of Peninsula State Park’s trees for $15,000 in 2015, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Regarding County Forest Road Aid, WisDOT administers the state’s County Forest Road Aid program, which was established to help defray county costs for the improvement and maintenance of public roads within county forests.
“The first county forest in Wisconsin got started almost 100 years ago in Langlade County with the idea to turn abandoned loggers’ land into a public asset,” said WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson.
“Today, these lands help define Up North in Wisconsin, and WisDOT works with our local partners to ensure that forest infrastructure improves tourism, industry, and agriculture,” Thompson added.
County Forest Road Aids are separate from the larger General Transportation Aids (GTA) program, and to qualify for the state funding, roads must meet minimum design standards of a 16-foot surface width and a 20-foot roadway width, according to a written statement from the Governor’s office.
The roads must also be located within county forests, be open and used for travel, be part of a comprehensive county forest land-use plan, and cannot be town roads, county, or state highways, according to the statement.
The 2019-21 biennial budget signed by Gov. Evers increased ongoing funding for this program by $71,800 over the biennium, raising the rate per mile provided to eligible counties from $336 per mile to $351 per mile.