Winter Timber Sale

Many forestry businesses not included in stay at home orders

Wisconsin's sweeping order due to COVID-19 goes into effect March 25

(Picture by Mike Mozart)

MADISON, Wis. -- Most forest industry businesses do not appear to be covered under Wis. Gov. Tony Evers sweeping order to close non-essential state businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secretary of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm explained the need for a stay at home order on Monday, saying: "This is a necessary step to slow the disease and allow us to continue to prepare the health care system for this pandemic."

The order, which takes effect on Wednesday, March 25 and runs for one month until April 24, cites a Department of Homeland Security statement that includes forest product operations as essential. Specifically, the federal definition lists "workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products."

In addition, the state order cited forestry and arborists among critical trades exempted from the Wisconsin order. Evers’ order also bars "non-essential travel."

Evers issued the order as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin reached more than 1,800 as of Friday (along with at least 44 deaths). When the Wisconsin order goes into effect on March 25, there will be a total of 17 states that have orders. Among neighboring states Michigan and Illinois had "stay at home" orders and Minnesota and Iowa did not.

On March 26, the Wisconsin DNR suspended all burning permits issued by the agency in response to Evers' stay at home order. The DNR notice pointed out that spring is the season when forest fire risk is highest, and that debris burning is a significant factor in the cause of forest fires.

Firefighters and first responders are being asked to take special precautions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“All burning of debris in barrels, burning of debris piles on the ground, grass or wooded area is prohibited at this time,” the DNR no burn order said. The DNR also noted that some burning regulations are under the control of local municipalities.

Meanwhile, timber sales on public lands are still being process although processed are being tested in a remote manner. A notice in Washburn County indicated that bids were not going to be accepted in-person and a number of other officials are teleworking and may have limited access to files and delayed online connectivity. A similar notice was posted for an upcoming Lincoln County sale.

Timber Tracking

Below is a roundup of stories on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the forestry markets in Wisconsin and beyond (this is a rapidly-changing situation so please check back for further updated stories):

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