Inducted November 7, 2008
Gordon Dahlie was a founder of the Wisconsin County Forests Association and served as the first president in 1968 until his retirement from Price County politics in 1978. He pushed for change in the evolution of the County Forest Program, to keep them as public lands, with favorable financing and tax basis. The legacy he leaves behind is a solid foundation that ensures the ongoing practice and continued progress of forestry in Wisconsin’s County Forests.
More about Gordon Dahlie:
Gordon Dahlie entered public life in 1938 when he was elected to the Price County Board, a seat he would hold until 1978. He served as Chairman from 1955 until 1978. Because of his leadership role, he was able to influence the direction that forestry took in Price County, serving many years on the Forestry Committee. He succeeded in guiding the return to productivity of a once cutover wasteland to a forest of significant ecological and socioeconomic importance. His support of reforestation, aggressive timber management, improved access, and vision to provide for many recreational opportunities proved to be wise investments. Dahlie also promoted the expansion of the County Forest staff, understanding the scope of work that needed to be accomplished and the subsequent positive impact to the local economy.
His support of a statewide County Forest program began in the early 1960’s. As the value of the County Forest program began to grow, conflict arose between how the revenues were shared with the state and how mil tax money was to be invested in the public forests of Wisconsin. The County Forest counties began meeting to discuss a more desirable distribution of resources resulting in the formation of the Wisconsin County Forest Executive Committee, of which Dahlie was named Chairman on December 20, 1960. He supported and provided the political backing for Price County Forester Adrian J. DeVriend, traveling with him around the state seeking resolution to the growing conflict.
Through his position as Chairman, Dahlie pushed for a change in legislation to meet the evolution of the County Forest program. He favored continuation of the forests in public ownership with changes in the financing favorable to the County Forest counties. It was proposed that the program be continued indefinitely provided, however, that countries receive a larger economic share and responsibility provided, however, that counties receive a larger economic share and responsibility for the administration of the program. Dahlie supported several major changes: the establishment of a “County Forest Land Use Plan”, fixed payments to the towns and school districts within the forest areas, increased acreage payments for lands in the program to the counties with a deferred payback so further development of their forest lands would take place, and continued cultivation of the important partnership between the county and the state to maximize the value of our forest lands. The result of his efforts was the enactment of the County Forest Law in 1963, forming a permanent program rather than merely extending the original 50 year contracts.
Dahlie’s understanding of the continuing need for a forum to resolve issues, conflicts, and establish policy for County Forests further resulted in the establishment of the Wisconsin County Forest Association, incorporated on May 15, 1968. Dahlie served as the first President, a position he held until retiring from the Price County Board in 1978.
Gordon Dahlie had the passion, vision, intelligence, and personality to promote forestry in whatever forum required. He was modest with no agenda other than improving the resources that he supported and advocated so ardently. The legacy he leaves behind is a solid foundation that insures the ongoing practice and continued progress of forestry on Wisconsin’s County Forests.