reached a consensus on state forest-use policies, its director said recently.
Gary Schneider said the 40-member panel has met monthly since January.
It is now working on recommendations for a report to the Governor, legislature
and state forest commission.
The panel met July 31 but snagged on whether to change forest management
rules from voluntary to mandatory, how to enforce those rules and how to
best use scientific data, said Schneider, a forester and associate dean
"After seven meetings of gathering information, talking to experts
and visiting sites in the field, this was our first attempt to reach a consensus
on the issues," he said.
"I wish I could say we reached it, but we need more dialogue. There
is still a lot of debate and people are defending their positions."
Schneider said the state's goal is to maintain a healthy balance between
consumption of timber and retention of enough forest to protect water quality,
recreational uses and natural beauty.
The panel will meet twice more before its recommendations are due in
Despite division among industry, private landowners and environmentalists,
Schneider said he is confident the panel will come up with the best plan
for the state.
"This is a large panel with many stakeholders. This was our first
attempt to reach a consensus on controversial issues," Schneider said.
"We realize now that to make recommendations the legislature can act
on, we better agree on some major issues and get on with it."
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