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Oneida County Pelican River Forest Committee votes to send new resolution to full county board

A map of the Pelican River Forest.

The Pelican River Forest Committee for Oneida County has finalized a resolution to send to the full county board for a vote.

The Pelican River Forest is a 70,000-acre conservation project in eastern Oneida County as well as part of Langlade and Forest Counties.

Last month, the Joint Finance Committee rejected using $4 million of Knowles Nelson Funds for the DNR to purchase easements for the land.

While the funding sat in the Joint Finance Committee, towns and cities in the area have been passing resolutions supporting and opposing the project.

The Oneida County board will once again be presented with a resolution regarding the Pelican River Forest at its meeting next week.

This one still opposes purchasing conservation and access easements on the land, though it looks a lot different from the one first presented to the board in February.

The first resolution before the board had factual errors, and some supervisors were upset with the lack of time they had to review the resolution before having to vote on it.

The board decided to form the Pelican River Forest Committee to review it and either edit it or create a new resolution.

The committee chose the latter option.

The new resolution opposes the conservation easement project as presented. It also offers solutions it would be in favor of.

Several of the points in the resolution revolve around the state buying roads or trails on the property for ATV and UTV use and deeding the easements to whichever of the three counties that portion is in.

Other points address issues the county had with the DNR process regarding this project.

The resolution calls for giving affected towns and counties 90 days instead of 30 to review and pass resolutions regarding these kinds of projects.

It also states the county doesn’t want more public land in the county without county and town approval if the easements are bought with state or federal dollars.

The resolution does not address other forms of recreation, timber harvesting, or protecting water quality which have been some of the major talking points for people that have spoken in favor of the Pelican River Forest at other county board and committee meetings.

The resolution will be on the agenda for the May 16th Oneida County Board meeting. It is a non-binding resolution.

You can view a copy of it here.

Even without the state funding, the Conservation Fund, which currently owns the land, says it is still working with the DNR to secure the conservation easements.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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