Managed Forest Law

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.

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.

Continue reading “Get The Latest On Forest Health Topics In Wisconsin”

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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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!

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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”

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.

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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”