The Push for ATV Access on Wisconsin Private Forests

Read the latest on Wisconsin Proposed Legislation on ATVs...

Legislation introduced by five Wisconsin legislators on February 7 would create access to private forest land throughout the state for the use of ATVs and 4-wheel drive trucks to much of the privately owned forestland throughout the state with few restrictions.

The land is open under current law to outdoor public recreation like hunting, fishing, and hiking. The legislation would require this “open” category to allow 4-wheel drive and recreational vehicles up to 8,000 pounds free use of the same privately owned and maintained roads.

The bill was introduced by Senators Mary Felzkowski, Romaine Quinn, and Rob Stafsholt and Representatives Chana Green and Peter Schmidt. Maintenance of unpaved logging roads is a major expense category for private forest landowners. The legislation mentions a fund that would be available for road repairs on a “first come, first serve basis”, Any funding would be diverted from other forestry accounts.

The Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association alerted its members to the legislative proposal and urged them to contact their legislators and the legislation’s sponsors (mentioned above). It notified interested parties of a legislative committee hearing at 1 pm on Wednesday, February 14.

Letters regarding the proposed legislation should be addressed to Senator Stafsholt of New Richmond, Chair of the Legislature’s Committee on Financial Institutions and Sporting Heritage. WWOA also suggested that forest landowners write to their district legislators to express their views of the proposed legislation and its impacts on private forest land ownership.

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