Private Forestry News

2024 New MFL Enrollments By The Numbers

As a property tax incentive program, new Managed Forest Law (MFL) enrollments become active at the start of the year to align with a new year for property taxation. 2024 was similar to last year, with more than 1,400 new enrollments!

Some statistics from the new enrollments include:

  • Nearly one-third are new landowners in the MFL program
  • A total of 107,304 acres were added to MFL
  • 1,411 enrollments are individual landowners, and 24 added land to large ownerships with at least 1,000 acres statewide
  • The average size of the new enrollments is 64 acres for individual landowners and 719 acres for large ownerships
  • 22,281 acres are open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing and cross-country skiing
  • Nearly 70% (15,422 acres) of the open MFL acreage is part of a large ownership
  • 70% of eligible new enrollments elected to participate in the MFL Certified Group

The start of the year is an excellent time for new and existing MFL landowners to review some of the available resources. Check out these resources to understand your obligations, the MFL Certified Group and where to secure professional help.

Welcome to all new MFL landowners, and thank you to new and existing MFL landowners for your commitment to practicing sound forestry.

My Wisconsin Woods Supports Wisconsin Woodland Owners

My Wisconsin Woods is a partnership of more than 20 private organizations and public agencies to support Wisconsin woodland owners in discovering and connecting with the resources they need. This includes information, property visits, technical and financial assistance and events such as classes, field days and conferences.

Stay connected and updated with the My Wisconsin Woods monthly e-newsletter – “Woodland News You Can Use.” The My Wisconsin Woods writers ensure you’ll have fun learning about serious stuff, including wildlife habitat, invasive species, tree health and much more! Sign up for My Wisconsin Woods.

MFL Certified Group Acknowledgements

One of the most significant advantages of the MFL Certified Group is its accessibility to forest certification for participating “Group Members.” Many of the certification requirements are covered through how the MFL program is implemented and administered. For example, the two most common paths for landowners to enter the MFL Certified Group are the MFL application and the MFL transfer form. Both paths require prospective Group Members to acknowledge and accept the American Tree Farm System® and Forest Stewardship Council® standards and the MFL Certified Group rules.

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NRCS Funding Available For MFL Landowners

NRCS funding availalbe

Funding for plan implementation is available through NRCS.

Need funding for the practices in your plan? The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) would like to help. A historic amount of funding will be made available to woodland owners through landowner assistance programs implemented by the NRCS and made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act.  See more information here.

What does this mean for you?

This funding is a rare opportunity for MFL landowners. NRCS has identified that “shovel-ready projects identified in a Forest Management Plan are more likely to secure funding.” MFL plans include a schedule of mandatory and recommended practices that may be eligible for NRCS funding.

How to get started?

Contact your local USDA Service Center to learn how NRCS can help fund practices on your MFL property and help you accomplish your forest management objectives. Click the link below for your local USDA Service Center and NRCS contact. Be sure to contact the service center for the county where your property is located, and please be patient with the NRCS staff. The increased funding is driving increased demand at NRCS field offices.

Find your local USDA Service Center.

Division Of Forestry Welcomes New Forest Certification Coordinator

Jake Walcisak

Jake Walcisak, Forest Certification Coordinator

Jake Walcisak has joined the DNR Division of Forestry as our Forest Certification Coordinator, administering our three certificates covering more than six million acres of department-owned lands, county forest lands and MFL Certified Group lands. Jake has nearly 15 years of experience in forest management and forest certification and is excited to join the Division of Forestry. Jake began his new role on Jan. 16, 2024, and is stationed at the Prentice Ranger Station.

A graduate of UW-Stevens Point, Jake has worked most of his career in the Wisconsin County Forest System, first in Florence County and most recently as the Taylor County Forest Administrator. Jake has also owned and operated a private forestry consulting business, with work spanning from northern Missouri to the far tip of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Jake is excited to engage with the MFL program, as his favorite part of his forestry consulting career was working with MFL landowners.

Jake lives in Prentice with his wife and three young children. Outside work, he is the happiest with a bow in his hands chasing antlered game across North America, or wielding a chainsaw to conduct stewardship practices on his own forestland.

Jake is excited to work with staff and partners in our collective pursuit of sustainable forest management on multi-use and working forests across Wisconsin.

Family, Tradition And Nature

Dennis and Mary Krueger of Waupaca County.

Dennis and Mary Krueger of Waupaca County. / Photo Credit: Krueger family

Family, tradition and nature are three strong pillars to build a happy and successful life. Just ask Dennis Krueger and his wife, Mary, who have made a family and a forest together.

“We have always believed in the importance of traditions in building memories,” Mary Krueger said.

They remember starting the tradition of an annual “Fall Walk in the Woods” in 1988, visiting the farm owned by Dennis’ grandfather. The idea was hatched when a teacher gave their eldest daughter (age 10) an assignment to collect different types of leaves.

“[We] picked an early October afternoon, loaded a backpack with plastic bags to collect leaves and nuts and brought a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches and apples,” Mary Krueger said. “[Our] daughters (ages 10, 8 and 5) and son (age 3) thought this to be the best picnic ever, as we walked a logging trail in a piece of the hardwoods on Grandpa’s farm and settled on a large rock on top of a hill to have lunch.”

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Mielke’s Home Is Where His Heart Is

Photo of Dick Mielke at the sign on the edge of his property christening it 'Legacy Hills.'

Dick Mielke was born and raised on farmland east of the city of Baraboo, and still lives on the land. He has converted much of it into carefully tended Managed Forest Law property he and his wife call “Legacy Hills.” / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

By Art Kabelowsky, DNR Forest Health Outreach/Communications, Fitchburg;; 608-335-0167

BARABOO TOWNSHIP — This land has been Dick Mielke’s legacy since the day he was born.

On a warm October morning, Mielke gave a visitor a tour of his property located four miles west of the city of Baraboo in Sauk County. Along the way, he pointed out landmarks that have played pivotal roles in the story of his life.

“If you look over there, you can barely see the house I grew up in, behind those trees. There’s a window. Oops, now it’s gone,” Mielke said while driving an ATV along a logging path on the edge of a tree stand. He and his wife, Melanie, now live in a comfortable ranch-style home they built on the property in 1990.

“My grandfather settled here from Germany right around 1900 … My family has been on the property ever since,” Mielke said.

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Get The Latest On Forest Health Topics In Wisconsin

Photo of a tree marked with a ribbon for pesticide/fungicide injection.

To protect high-value trees against infestation at Big Foot Beach State Park in Lake Geneva, a ribbon shows workers which trees to treat with herbicide or pesticide. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR.

We share a desire for healthy woodlands with landowners participating in the MFL and FCL programs.

MFL and FCL management plans identify and address forest health concerns that are present or possible in your woods when the plan is written. However, the nature of these threats means they evolve over time, and new threats to forest health emerge.

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MFL Certified Group Pesticide Reporting Reminder

A worker rinses pesticide from a measuring cup

All owners of certified MFL Lands are required to report their pesticide usage each year. Photo Credit: / Wisconsin DNR

As a Certified Group, we aim for 100% pesticide reporting on certified MFL Lands.

Recent articles have described the pesticide reporting requirements for forest certification. As we approach the end of the year, this is a reminder to submit your report if any pesticides have been applied on your certified MFL property in the past year.

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Open Seasons And Open MFL Land

Map showing distribution of open tax law lands in Wisconsin

This Wisconsin overview map from Private Forest Lands Open For Public Recreation web map shows the distribution of open tax law lands (each point is a quarter-quarter section containing open land).

Fall has finally arrived in Wisconsin, although the temperatures to kick the season off certainly haven’t felt particularly autumnal. There are many blessings that fall brings, including Badger and Packer football, fall colors, apple and pumpkin pies, and of course fall hunting seasons. In the forest tax law program, we see a spike in interest for open MFL and FCL land this time of year, so it’s a timely opportunity to showcase open tax law lands.

By providing the public recreational access to their MFL or FCL lands, landowners support one of the primary purposes of Wisconsin’s Forest Tax Laws. Lands designated as open MFL provide public access for five recreational activities: hunting, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing and cross-county skiing. Lands designated as FCL allow for public hunting and fishing. Other recreational activities such as trapping and foraging are not permitted on these private open MFL and FCL lands without permission from the landowner.

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