Wisconsin's strategic forest plan being drafted, garnering feedback
Shifts to family ownership and smaller parcels continues
MADISON, Wis. -- A 190-page draft of a strategic forest plan for Wisconsin is available for feedback until April 6. The document will be finalized in June and submitted to the federal government later this year. The plan is required for Wisconsin to qualify for forestry program funding under the federal farm law.
The plan is intended to cover the next 10 years, and is based on a formal assessment of the health and viability of all of Wisconsin’s forest land, public and private that began last year.
The draft plan notes the continuation of a number of long term trends. Private ownership continues to head toward more family owners and smaller parcels. The average parcel size has declined from 37 acres in 1997 to 23 acres in 2013. About 70% of private landowners have parcels between 10 and 50 acres.
Only 25% of private landowners have a forest management plan, according to the draft plan. That’s because forest management is not a high priority for most landowners. Their top priorities for ownership are wildlife, beauty and hunting, according to the National Woodland Ownership Survey of 2016.
Some species in Wisconsin are showing strong and accelerating growth, led by white pine, red maple and red pine. However, red pine also leads in harvest removals.
Conservation easement land has doubled since 2010 from approximately 150,000 acres to
300,000 acres. Conservation easements on former paper company land “have been successfully implemented on a large acreage of working forest land, but were less likely to be placed in areas at higher risk of withdrawal and development,” according to the draft plan, citing a 2017 study.
Copies of the draft report are available digitally from Amanda Koch of the DNR (AmandaA.email@example.com) who also is receiving comments about it until April 6 (extended due to the COVID19 epidemic).