County Board provides direction for potential forestland expansion
Two properties in Enterprise possible purchases
BY KEVIN BONESKE
After meeting in closed session Tuesday, the Oneida County Board announced its decision related to giving direction on the potential purchase of two properties in the town of Enterprise where more than 200 acres could be added to the county’s forestland.
Though not specifying all the details discussed in closed session, County Board chairman Dave Hintz said supervisors talked about what the properties are worth and at what price they might be purchased.
The County Board, which first began the discussion about the properties in open session, decided to go into closed session at the request of supervisor Jack Sorensen, who chairs the Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee and noted the county has received appraisals for the properties, which their values weren’t publicly disclosed.
The possibility of purchasing the properties was initially considered by the County Board in June when supervisors passed a resolution to authorize the county’s Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee to pursue the purchase of adjacent properties known as the Haug and Houle parcels. The resolution also called for any agreement to purchase any or all of the property owned by the Haugs or Houles to be brought before the County Board for final approval.
To reduce the overall cost to the county of purchasing the properties, that resolution included applying for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grant to potentially reimburse the county for a portion of the funds required to acquire any or all of that land.
County forestry and recreation director John Bilogan, who was not present for Tuesday’s meeting, previously provided supervisors with details about the two properties, for which the Haug parcel surrounds Gillette Lake and the Houle parcel encompasses Wickham Lake with the acreage of both properties having primarily hardwood trees.
Bilogan had noted the acquisition of those properties would make it possible to consolidate the county forestland by reducing private property lines, potential for encroachment, potential for timber theft and potential management conflicts.
In addition to recreational opportunities and protecting undeveloped land and lakes, Bilogan also pointed out the purchase would streamline the management of adjacent county forestland and provide a larger county forestland base for management.
Though supervisors didn’t disclose the appraised value of the properties that they discussed in closed session, Bilogan had stated at the County Board’s June meeting that the fair market value of both parcels combined is over $1 million.
Sorensen spoke at Tuesday’s meeting in favor of purchasing the land and about what the potential benefits would be for the county.
“These are very desirable pieces of property,” Sorensen said. “We have reason to believe that there is significant stumpage on this property. It has the potential of becoming a mini-county park. We could do a variety of different things with this property…”
Supervisor Scott Holewinski questioned the benefit of purchasing the properties and taking them off the tax rolls, noting the money put toward buying and developing the land could be used for improving the county’s roads.
Sorensen said the county would be able to generate revenue from timber sales on the property and put that money back into the general fund.