Private Forestry News

2021 Wisconsin Act 230 Makes Changes To Managed Forest Law Program

The legal requirements of the Managed Forest Law program have changed, allowing additional flexibilities to landowners and clarifying the administration of the program by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Governor Evers signed 2021 Wisconsin Act 230 into law on April 8, 2022, putting the following changes to chapter 77, Wis. Stats. into effect:

  • The 20-acre minimum enrollment requirement may now be comprised of two 10-acre portions that are not contiguous to each other if they are on a tract of land under the same ownership*
  • Buildings and improvements on Managed Forest Law property are allowed if used exclusively for storage*
  • Additions to existing parcels of any size are allowed if certain eligibility requirements are met*
  • Leasing on Managed Forest Law land is clearly allowed
  • Voluntary withdrawal from the Managed Forest Law program is exempt from tax or fee for a public purpose to a city, village or town that is the taxing jurisdiction

*Changes effective as of April 16, 2016

The act also clarifies:

  • The instances when the DNR is or is not required to assess a withdrawal tax and fee
  • The DNR’s authority to provide flexibility for large ownerships (1,000 acres or more) of Managed Forest Law land, allowing for alternative management plan requirements
  • What constitutes a material change to the terms of the order

Read the updated statute, chapter 77, Wis. Stats., on the Wisconsin Legislature’s website

 Thank you for your interest in the Managed Forest Law program.

Tax Law Handbook Updated

The Wisconsin Department of Resources (DNR) Division of Forestry’s Tax Law Section recently updated its Tax Law Handbook.

The Tax Law Handbook instructs staff and professional partners, including Cooperating Foresters and Certified Plan Writers, on implementing statutes and rules at a specifically technical level.

Program overview and reference information, compliance procedures for mandatory practices, and voluntary compliance agreements were updated, revised and posted for public comment for 21 days ending Jan. 19, 2022.

View the final updated Forest Tax Law Handbook.

The DNR considered each comment received and valued stakeholder input. As a result of stakeholder comments, no changes were made. Tax law staff sent a response email to each person that commented.

Fifteen written comments were received from 14 individuals. Most of the comments (13 of 15) were regarding the Mandatory Practice Compliance Procedures changes in Chapter 601, focusing on introducing a three-year limit for practices to have a status of services accepted, meaning professional forestry services are secured, and why it might be problematic due to difficult harvests and lack of markets.

Nevertheless, the comments received described instances and provided examples of DNR’s flexibility despite difficult sales and lack of markets. The DNR remains flexible in maintaining communicative and cooperative landowners in compliance.

There is a limit on how long practices could use a status of services accepted to keep remain compliant.

With an active cutting notice, there is no limit on how long practices can be compliant. A cutting notice is generally required when merchantable trees are cut on Managed Forest Law (MFL) or Forest Crop Law (FCL) land.

Information on cutting notices is available here.

The DNR will renew cutting notices as long as the landowner communicates with the department and has a credible plan to complete the practice in a reasonable amount of time.

Learn more about other Division of Forestry stakeholder input opportunities.

Seeking Input to Proposed Changes in Chapter 1 of Private Forestry Handbook

Chapter 1 of the Private Forestry Handbook is available for stakeholder review and comment through April 4, 2022.

This chapter covers program guidelines for DNR forestry staff regarding their work with private woodland owners, including establishing walk-through service standards and a property walk-through policy. We’re updating this chapter to establish a property walk-through policy since there was no set standard for this important interaction with private woodland owners.

To review and provide feedback on this document, please visit the DNR Forestry Stakeholder Input Page.

Document Title: Private Forestry Handbook HB2470.5

Contact Person: Kristin Lambert

Due Date: April 4, 2022

Click here to view a detailed description of document updates.

Input Invited on Forest Tax Law Handbook Updates

The DNR Division of Forestry prioritizes soliciting stakeholder input on division documents. As a division, we are committed to informing and involving our stakeholders in the development and review of materials that guide our programs. Inviting stakeholders to provide input is not only good customer service, it also creates opportunities to identify potential concerns and unforeseen impacts, understand diverse perspectives and determine the level of stakeholder support for division documents. To review and provide feedback on a document, go to the DNR Forestry Public Comment webpage here

DOCUMENT AVAILABLE NOW FOR STAKEHOLDER INPUT:
Document Title: Forest Tax Law Handbook HB2450.5
Contact Person: Skya Rose Murphy, skyar.murphy@wisconsin.gov or 608-843-1551
Due Date: June 4, 2021
For a detailed description of document updates, visit the webpage here.

Tax Law Strategic Plan Released

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry’s Tax Law Section has released their strategic plan developed to further meet the Division of Forestry’s Strategic Direction 2017-2022 intent to “… continue to improve administration of the Tax Law programs, focusing on a new service model which will consolidate tax law work into fewer positions and develop expertise in staff.”

The new strategic plan focuses on five goals with associated objectives designed to guide section efforts to increase completion of sound forest management through landowner engagement, cooperator commitment and staff expertise.

This plan does not include the specific tactics that will be utilized to achieve the objectives and strategies. The Tax Law Section will be soliciting feedback from the Wisconsin Private Forestry Advisory Committee (WPFAC) and other key stakeholders to develop and finalize an implementation plan to be released later this fall. That plan will detail tactics and tools to achieve specific objectives affiliated with the five goals.

We are excited and ready to work collaboratively with our customers and partners to move the tax law program forward and better serve the people of Wisconsin and their resource.  Please direct questions to R.J. Wickham, Tax Law Section Chief at Richard.Wickham@Wisconsin.gov or 920-369-6248

Assistance for private woodland owners impacted by recent storms

Severe storms swept the northwest, northeast, and west central portions of the State from Friday, July 19th through the evening of Saturday, July 20th. The storms consisted of severe straight-line winds, large hail, heavy rains, and tornadic activity, resulting in significant tree damage on both public and private properties. Left unchecked, damaged trees can also result in major economic losses and create significant forest management problems. The DNR has been partnering with local municipalities to assist with recovery efforts by helping with debris removal.

In addition, the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry has staff available to assist and connect you with the resources needed to mitigate the damages that have occurred from the recent storms. Depending on the situation, local DNR foresters may provide a property walk through, connect you with Cooperating Foresters and Logging Operators that work in the area, provide you with publications and information or direct you to federal resources such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Find your local DNR County Forester by going to mywisconsinwoods.org/foresters/

 

My Wisconsin Woods Values Your Woodlands

YOUR WOODS can be a source of food for your family.
OR your favorite hunting ground.
OR even create a source of income!

Whatever you value most, your woods are your gateway to the outdoors. Whether you own several hundred acres or just enough to take a short walk, sustainably managing your woodland is important. The best part is you don’t have to do it alone. My Wisconsin Woods, a public, private partnership serving woodland owners across the state, has launched a comprehensive landowner portal to connect you with natural resource professionals, forestry events in your area, and free information and materials. Recently released is a video series for landowners who are curious about what forestry benefits might exist or have nagging concerns. This series was made possible through the generous support of the Ruffed Grouse Society and David Moore with production and content provided by the Department of Natural Resources, Aldo Leopold Foundation and Driftless Area Land Conservancy.

So let’s go exploring …

May 18: WWOA Open Woods events across Wisconsin

Are you a woodland owner who would like to learn more about caring for your woodlands and keeping it healthy? Perhaps you are thinking of purchasing woodlands?  This day is for you!

YOU are invited to join Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association’s (WWOA) 40th year celebration of educating and assisting Wisconsin’s private woodland owners by attending one of their Open Woods events on Saturday, May 18, 2019. WWOA members around the state will celebrate by opening their private woodlands to the public and hosting a variety of family-friendly events to showcase how they have improved their land through forest management.

The list of event hosts and activities on the WWOA website continues to be updated, so check back often.​ Bring your family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy a walk in the woods or special activity.

Each site will offer a variety of fun events such as walks with the hosts and forester or other natural resource professionals to showcase how the woodlands have been cared for or tentative projects on the land. Other entertainment may include children’s activities with Smoky Bear, crafts, natural bird feeders, wildflower seed bombs, and tree/plant/wildlife identification and exhibits from various nonprofit organizations and agencies. Many locations are also offering snacks and refreshments or encouraging participants to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the woods.

Learn more about caring for your woods at www.wisconsinwoodlands.org

NR 46 available for public comment

By R.J. Wickham, Tax Law Section Chief – Forestry Field Operation Bureau, Division of Forestry
Contact info: (920) 369-6248, Richard.Wickham@wisconsin.gov

The proposed rules affecting Chapter NR 46 of Wisconsin’s Administrative Code related to Forest Tax Programs, including the Forest Crop Law (FCL) program and the Managed Forest Law (MFL) program, are available for public review and comment.

Signed into law on April 2016, 2015 Wisconsin Act 358 made a number of significant changes to the administration of the FCL and MFL programs requiring a comprehensive update to NR 46. The Forest Tax Section is proposing amendments to NR 46 to become consistent with statutory changes made to Ch.77, Wis. Stats. The proposed updates also include additional changes to NR 46 to incorporate long standing policy and streamline administration of the programs. Our sincere thanks go to the many individuals and partners, including the Wisconsin Private Forestry Advisory Committee, whose review and feedback helped shape these proposed amendments.

Here is the Notice of Public Hearing FR-23-16 document which includes hearing information and explains the process of submitting comments:
https://dnr.wi.gov/news/input/documents/rules/FR2316PublicHearing.pdf

The proposed rule can be accessed here:
https://dnr.wi.gov/news/input/documents/rules/FR2316DraftRule.pdf

Oak in the Driftless Workshop

Saturday, September 29, 2018  •  UW-Baraboo/Sauk County

This landowner workshop will cover a wide range of topics centered on the idea that oaks, today and in the future, are a shared resource important to people and wildlife in the Driftless Area in southwestern Wisconsin.

Learn from field experts about the many topics around oak during the morning session and continue discussions at lunch (provided); see some of these practices in action during the afternoon session when you to visit one of several woodland properties actively managing oak.

Topics include
• Oak ecology
• Improving wildlife habitat
• Planting trees
• Controlling invasive species
• Properly harvesting trees
• Understanding what your trees are worth
• and much more!

Cost is just $25 (Individual), $40 (Couple)
Hurry! These early-bird rates end August 19th.
Register online now.