Retired Wisconsin DNR wildlife director wants state to save forestry tax, DNR magazine

Tom Hauge, now a private citizen who previously directed DNR wildlife management, says the governor’s efforts to eliminate the forestry mill tax and Natural Resources magazine are misguided. (Photo by Tim Eisele)

Tom Hauge, recently retired director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Bureau of Wildlife Management, is strongly opposed to two changes in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed state budget.

Hauge was responsible for the management of the state’s wildlife resources for 25 years, and as such knows the value of forest habitat for species like turkeys, ruffed grouse, bear, deer, and elk.

When he saw the governor’s proposed budget he immediately noticed the proposal that will eliminate the forestry mill tax and replace it with general purpose revenue (state taxes).

To most people, this seems like an even trade-off, but Hauge realizes that it will undoubtedly mean less money for state forestry in the future, and that will have a negative impact on wildlife habitat, which will mean less wildlife.

Forestry is a long-term program, and the Legislature is today wrestling with how to fund education and road repair from state tax receipts. If forestry is added to the mix, it will undoubtedly come out on the short end.

Hauge says that, now, forestry has a dedicated fund, and he can not understand why this is a good idea.

“I sincerely hope the Joint Finance Committee and the Legislature do not advance this idea,” Hauge said.

The other proposal to eliminate the DNR’s Natural Resources magazine is just as ludicrous.

Hauge said that when he worked for the DNR, they could write articles that included more details than brief press releases and helped people to understand ecology and wildlife management. Without the magazine, the DNR might have to pay for advertising space somewhere else.

The magazine is self-sufficient — subscribers pay for the costs, and there will be no cost savings to taxpayers if it is eliminated.

“I hope the magazine stays,” Hauge said.

So do the magazine’s 88,000 subscribers.

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