Private Forestry News

2023 MFL Audit A Success

Map showing Managed Forest Law management zones

This map shows the Managed Forest Law management zones. / Map Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Back in August, a team of third-party forest certification auditors made their annual trip to Wisconsin to evaluate the performance and administration of the MFL Certified Group to American Tree Farm System® and Forest Stewardship Council® standards.

Over the week of Aug. 12, auditors visited 85 sites in the counties served by the Northeast Tax Law Team. This audit was even more successful than last year, with only a single audit finding and no corrective actions needed. That marks the first annual audit in the history of the MFL Certified Group (dating back to 2005) which resulted in zero corrective action requests!

Continue reading “2023 MFL Audit A Success”

Applying For MFL And Hiring A Certified Plan Writer

By Nicholas Holmes, DNR Tax Law Forestry Specialist serving Brown, Door, Kewaunee and Outagamie Counties

Is your Managed Forest Law (MFL) Order Commitment expiring? Would you like to reenroll, add land to your current enrollment, or are you considering enrolling in MFL for the first time? You must hire a Certified Plan Writer (CPW) to prepare an application and submit it to the DNR by June 1, 2024.

Managed Forest Law (MFL) expiration letters were mailed in July to landowners whose MFL enrollment expires on Dec. 31, 2024. Landowners who qualify and wish to remain in the MFL program without a lapse in enrollment will need to meet the application deadline of June 1, 2024. Landowners who are not currently enrolled in the MFL but who qualify and wish to enroll as of Jan. 1, 2025 need to meet the same deadline. If there has been a change to your contact information, please inform your local Tax Law Forestry Specialist of your correct address so expiration letters reach the appropriate destination.

Before enrolling, reenrolling or adding land to your current enrollment, familiarize yourself with today’s program requirements and ensure that MFL is a good fit for you. Many changes have been made to the MFL program over the last several years. Landowners are highly encouraged to visit the Managed Forest Law page on the WI DNR website to familiarize themselves with the rules and requirements of the program.  Continue reading “Applying For MFL And Hiring A Certified Plan Writer”

A Look At Forestry Certification: Education 101 And Industry Insight

NOTE: This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association Magazine and is reprinted here with permission.

By Taylor Dorsey, Wood Sourcing Specialist with Ahlstrom

Forest products have become an increasingly important part of the global economy.  In the past couple of decades, forest certification has increased in popularity. Forest certification is a voluntary process in which the forest management practices and fiber tracking methods of an organization, or individual, are evaluated and certified according to a set of environmental, social and economic standards.

Forest certification began in the early 1990s, when a number of environmental organizations and companies began to recognize the need for improved forest management practices. The concept was to create a system in which companies and individuals could demonstrate their commitment to responsible forest management. The goal was to create a system that would provide a standard of environmental, social and economic best practices and would be recognized and accepted globally. Continue reading “A Look At Forestry Certification: Education 101 And Industry Insight”

Results Of 2023 MFL Group Internal Certification Audit

The annual internal audit of the Managed Forest Law (MFL) Certified Group took place during the week of April 10 with visits to 40 certified MFL properties and completed timber harvests in southern Wisconsin – specifically in Columbia, Dane, Iowa, Juneau, Marquette, Monroe, Richland, Sauk, Vernon and Waushara counties.

We were fortunate to have sunny skies and warm weather, witness a lot of superb forest management, engage in thoughtful discussions with landowners, foresters, and loggers, and identify a couple more opportunities for improvement. In sum, we are challenged to improve our pesticide reporting by group members and transportation system maintenance outside of forestry operations.

An internal audit is required every year for both Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) and American Tree Farm System® (ATFS) standards, under which the MFL Certified Group is dually certified. The audit reviews a selection of MFL properties where timber harvesting was completed within the previous three years. All indicators under the FSC and ATFS standards are eligible for evaluation during the audit, but the focus is on indicators that where the MFL Group has been out of conformance in recent audits and on issues identified through routine harvest monitoring. Continue reading “Results Of 2023 MFL Group Internal Certification Audit”

Medford Couple Invests Elbow Grease

By Art Kabelowsky, Wisconsin DNR Division of Forestry

Lori and Jim Livingston manage a species-diverse, 401-acre property outside Medford and adjacent to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

Lori and Jim Livingston manage a species-diverse, 401-acre property outside Medford and adjacent to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

What’s one of the most underrated factors behind successful forest stewardship?

Good old-fashioned elbow grease.

“There used to be a time we’d both get up in the morning and work until it got dark,” Lori Livingston said with a laugh. “We don’t do that anymore.”

Still, elbow grease remains the not-so-secret ingredient behind the vast and diverse beauty of Jim and Lori Livingston’s 401-acre property, located adjacent to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in the Town of Hammel, near Medford in Taylor County.

“The north end is hilly, with a lot of rocks. The south end levels out but gets wet,” Jim Livingston said. “For this part of Wisconsin, we have a lot of diversity.”

“When we first saw this (property), it was just a rockpile,” Lori Livingston said. “Lots and lots of rocks. But we have so many resources here, we’ve been able to make it work.” Continue reading “Medford Couple Invests Elbow Grease”

SCS Global Services Seeks Stakeholder Input

Summary: As part of an upcoming Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®) certification evaluation, forest certification auditor SCS Global Services is seeking stakeholder input regarding the forest management program and practices of State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Managed Forest Law (MFL) program.

Please direct comments to Brendan Grady (SCS Director of Forest Management) and Beth Jacqmain (FSC Lead Auditor) at  You may mail comments to them at 2000 Powell Street, Suite 600, Emeryville, CA 94608 or reach them via telephone at (510) 452-8034.

In continuation with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) endorsed forest management certification, the Managed Forest Law program will be undergoing an audit during the week of August 14, 2023 for Wisconsin’s Managed Forest Law (MFL) Certified Group. The audit will be conducted by SCS Global Services, a FSC-accredited certification body. The Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC sets standards that ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way.

Continue reading “SCS Global Services Seeks Stakeholder Input”

Pesticide Requirements On Certified MFL Lands

What do buckthorn, spongy moth and heterobasidion root disease all have in common? Although very different forest pests, they can all potentially be treated with pesticides. A pesticide, as defined in the Forest Stewardship Council® Pesticide Policy, is any substance or mixture of substances of chemical or biological ingredients intended for repelling, destroying or controlling any pest or regulating plant growth.

More specifically, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides are the pesticides most commonly encountered in forestry applications. They are often prescribed as part of a robust Integrated Pest Management strategy to manage forest pests. For landowners participating in the Managed Forest Law (MFL) Certified Group, specific forest certification requirements are associated with pesticide use on their certified lands. Continue reading “Pesticide Requirements On Certified MFL Lands”

MFL Compliance And Services Accepted For Mandatory Practices

Last year, changes to Wisconsin DNR policy and procedures for mandatory practice compliance were adopted, culminating in a new Chapter 601: Mandatory Practice Compliance Procedures within the Forest Tax Law Handbook. For a summary of these changes, you can reference this newsletter article from last year. In particular, 2023 will be the first year implementing the new procedures for what we refer to as “services accepted.” A new process merits an explanation of what services accepted means and how it impacts a landowner’s compliance with Managed Forest Law (MFL) and Forest Crop Law (FCL).

The mandatory practice is often where the rubber meets the road in MFL and FCL. Mandatory practices are forest management practices, most frequently timber harvests, required under MFL to ensure continued production of marketable timber products from enrolled properties. Given the importance of the mandatory practice, the Forest Tax Law section and our partners often communicate about these. There are reminder letters to affected landowners, webpages describing harvesting on tax law lands, mandatory practice workshops and newsletter articles. Continue reading “MFL Compliance And Services Accepted For Mandatory Practices”

Forest Tax Law Handbook Forest Certification Chapter Updated

The DNR Division of Forestry recently finalized updates to the Forest Tax Law Handbook, Chapter 221, regarding the Managed Forest Law Certified Group. This chapter contains procedures required to conform with third-party forest certification and serves to inform group stakeholders of how the MFL Certified Group works. The update constituted a holistic rewrite of the original Ch. 21 of the Forest Tax Law Handbook. Find a detailed summary of the changes made Continue reading “Forest Tax Law Handbook Forest Certification Chapter Updated”

Following The Right Path

Note: This is the first in a series of articles featuring Managed Forest Law landowners.  This feature of Jim Schiller was written by Art Kabelowsky, a communications specialist in the Division of Forestry.  Kabelowsky took the photos as well.
Managed Forest Law forest landowner Jim Schiller walks down a path in his woodland.

Forest landowner Jim Schiller teams up with DNR’s Managed Forest Law program on his successful woodland property near New Glarus.

Not even a chilly, overcast Monday afternoon could dampen the enthusiasm of Jim Schiller as he showed off his favorite place.

While taking a visitor on a tour of his 29-acre woodlot west of New Glarus in Green County, Schiller paused frequently to explain the past, present and future of each section of the property.

A few red oak trees here, some walnut trees there, a group of white oak trees planned on the other side of the path … spots where he’ll plant conifer seedlings to help protect his deciduous trees … areas where he has begun work to control invasive species such garlic mustard … his thoughts on when and what to harvest.

“You’ve always got to be thinking ahead,” Schiller said. “That’s the main thing I’ve gotten out of all of this.” Continue reading “Following The Right Path”