National Guard To Help Storm Ravaged Wisconsin

By KBJR News 1

September 2, 2011 Updated Sep 2, 2011 at 9:09 PM CDT

Burnett Co., WI (Northland's NewsCenter) --- The Wisconsin National Guard will be deployed to help clean-up tens of thousands of acres hit by storms in northern Wisconsin.

About 64 Soldiers from the Guard's 724th Engineer Battalion will be in Burnett and Douglas counties from Sept. 9th-30th to help clean-up debris.

This comes after Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency for wind damage in northern Wisconsin.

There were nearly 81,000 acres of blown down trees in Burnett County alone. With a total of 130,000 acres of land with trees on the ground, the race against time has begun.

"We have a real concern with the buildup of forest fire fuels such as behind me here and if we have a forest fire get started in a place like this we'll have a real hard time containing and suppressing that fire," said Steve Runstrom, an area forestry leader.

Private forest lands suffered the most with nearly 74,000 acres of destruction. Dorinda Conroy understands the dangers of dry timber and fire but hopes to salvage the beauty of her property as they clean out the fallen trees.

"We knew that with our neighbors and with hearing that it is a fire hazardous area and we knew that we had to take care of it but we want to be real selective because we do love our land," Dorinda Conroy said.

Two months after straight line winds ripped through the trees on their 160 acres of property, Clare Conroy is happy to see the cleanup finally beginning.

"Well I'm happy to see them here. Like I said I think they got here as quick as they could with all that's going on," Clare Conroy said.

Since July, Northwestern Wisconsin loggers have been going through the forests salvaging what trees they can and clearing the rest but the area of work is massive.

"It's always been 80 hours plus a week sometimes up to 100 and that's, I think that's probably typical for a lot of people, said Bill Foss, a forester with T&T Logging.

The workers hope they can clean up all the blown down trees before the snow flies because after that it might be an impossible task.

Nearly half of the private ownership land in Wisconsin belongs to lakeside owners living in Minnesota.

Written for the web by Alyssa Kroeten & Jordan Weinand