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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

 5:19 PM 

Senate approves changes to managed forest land program

The Senate approved 20-11 several changes to the state’s Managed Forest Land program.

Under the program, landowners sign up and agree to forestry management practices and plans to log timber. They also pay fees, in lieu of property taxes, that are less than what they would have been taxed. Current law requires those property owners reserve no more than 160 acres as closed, or private, while the rest is kept open for public recreational use.

Among other things, the amended would double the 160-acre cap for nonindustrial landowners to 320, rather than the original proposal to eliminate the cap.

Other provisions include: 

*ensuring property owners are signing a contract when entering the program and can withdraw if they do not agree with changes; 

*allowing owners lease out their closed land for recreational use; 

*increasing the minimum acreage requirement from 10 to 20; 

*allowing landowners remove as many as 5 acres from the program to build a residence; 

*directing that the closed-acreage fees go to the parcel's county and municipality or town rather than to the DNR, as current law requires. That provision is coupled with an end to the timber harvest yield taxes local governments now receive. 

Dems Janet Bewley of Ashland and Julie Lassa of Stevens Point joined Republicans in backing the legislation.


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