LAONA, Wis. (AP) -- A century after lumber barons cut down 1.5 million acres of timberlands now protected within the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest, timber industry managers say the riches within the regrown forest are being squandered at taxpayers' expense.
Gannett Wisconsin Media report the battle pits loggers and mill owners against environmentalists and the woodland-recreation industry.
Records show the government could have sold 1.3 billion board feet of wood in the past decade under the forest's management plan. That would have represented roughly $110 million in revenue. But loggers cut just 755 million board feet, a little more than half the allowed quantity.
Forest supervisor Paul Strong points out that the Chequamegon-Nicolet serves multiple purposes.
University of Wisconsin botanist Don Waller says the priority has swung in favor of tourism and environmental appreciation.
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