Managed Forest Law

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.

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

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