Governor signs Managed Forest Law bill – AB 909/SB 913

Today, the Governor’s office announced that he had signed AB 909 (now Act 230) with changes to the Managed Forest Law program.  Act 230, makes a number of changes to the Managed Forest Land (MFL) program, including modifying the 20-acre eligibility threshold by allowing two noncontiguous 10-acre parcels to qualify for enrollment into the program, creating an exception to the prohibition on buildings and improvements on MFL parcels, and requiring the DNR to promulgate separate rules specifically for property owners with more than 1,000 acres enrolled in the MFL program.  The WI Legislative Council’s Amendment memo describes the change made to the bill before passage.

The WWOA Board of Directors has submitted testimony for the Assembly Committee on Forestry on Forestry, Parks and Outdoor Recreation Public Hearing on February 2, 2022 regarding Assembly Bill 909 on proposed changes to the Managed Forest Law program.

Read the WWOA Board’s testimony HERE.

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WI DNR notes 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.

USDA Biological Control Lab Seeks Green Ash Trees

Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive insect from Asia that was first introduced into the United States in 2002. The Emerald ash borer (EAB) has been found in 64 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.  Since its discovery, EAB has caused the death and decline of tens of millions of ash trees. Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is using ash trees against the pest to help preserve and protect the tree species. They are asking Wisconsin landowners for their help.

Wisconsin landowners have donated live, infested ash trees to USDA’s EAB biological control program. The staff will then use the wood to rear EAB’s natural enemies and release them in Wisconsin and 28 other EAB-infested States. The biocontrol staff will need more ash trees to continue producing and releasing these stingless wasps that attack and kill EAB and are hoping more Wisconsin residents will consider donating their ash trees this year.

Biological control (Biocontrol) helps to reduce pest populations by using natural enemies such as parasitoids (stingless wasps), predators, pathogens, antagonists (to control plant diseases), or competitors. It is a practical option to suppress pest populations and an environmentally sound method of pest control.

“Our facility in Brighton, Michigan, is one of a kind,” said EAB biocontrol manager Ben Slager. “We rear almost a million wasps each year and provide them at no cost to our State cooperators for release. We’ve harvested EAB-infested ash in Michigan, Ohio, and last year in Wisconsin. Over the years we have had to travel farther to find the material we need.”

[Read more…]

Northern long-eared bat proposed as endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on March 22, 2022, a proposal to reclassify the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The bat, currently listed as threatened, faces extinction due to the range-wide impacts of white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease affecting cave-dwelling bats across the continent.

Bats are critical to healthy, functioning ecosystems and contribute at least $3 billion annually to the U.S. agriculture economy through pest control and pollination. The growing extinction crisis highlights the importance of the ESA and efforts to conserve species before declines become irreversible.

“White-nose syndrome is devastating northern long-eared bats at unprecedented rates, as indicated by this science-based finding” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “The Service is deeply committed to continuing our vital research with partners on reducing the impacts of white-nose syndrome, while working with diverse stakeholders to conserve the northern long-eared bat and reduce impacts to landowners.”

White-nose syndrome has spread across nearly 80% of the species’ entire range and nearly all of its U.S. range since it was listed as threatened in 2015. The proposal to change the status of the northern long-eared bat comes after an in-depth review of the species found that the bat continues to decline and now meets the definition of endangered under the ESA.

[Read more…]

WWOA Comments on Proposed Changes to WI DNR Forest Tax Law Handbook 1 18 22

The WWOA Board of Directors held a special Board meeting on January 12, 2022 to respond to the proposed WI DNR Forest Tax Law Handbook changes.

WWOA’s response to the proposed changes can be read HERE.

$25 Rebate On Endangered Resources License Plates

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is celebrating Bat Week Oct. 24-31 by offering a $25 rebate on new purchases of the Endangered Resources license plate now through Dec. 31, 2021.

Sales from the Endangered Resources license plate help protect Wisconsin’s rare species in need such as the state’s native cave bat population. Wisconsin is home to four cave bat species, all of which have been in steep decline since the discovery of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that causes extensive mortality in the species, in the state in 2014.

Since 1995, sales from the Endangered Resources license plates have played a critical role in funding DNR conservation work for more than 400 wildlife species and 300 plant species listed as endangered, threatened or special concern. Wisconsin’s Endangered Resources Program works to identify, protect and manage native plants, animals and Wisconsin’s natural communities from the common to the critically endangered. [Read more…]

Wisconsin Proclaims Arbor Day April 30th

Madison, WI – April 7, 2021:

Governor Tony Evers proclaims Arbor Day April 30th and Forest Appreciation Week 22nd – 30th in Wisconsin.  Arbor Day has been celebrated by our state’s school kids since 1883, and is officially observed in Wisconsin on the last Friday in April. Forest Appreciation Week is a time to acknowledge our state’s trees and forests for their importance to our economy, environment, public health, and collective identity as Wisconsinites. On Arbor Day and during Forest Appreciation Week, the state of Wisconsin encourages all Wisconsinites to spend time outdoors, plant and care for trees, and show their gratitude towards the professionals who dedicate their time to caring for our state’s trees and forests. You can view the proclamation here. The DNR has some great ideas on how to celebrate Arbor Day and to learn more about Wisconsin Forests.

Online Spring Conservation Hearings on April 12 starting at 7 pm

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding all Wisconsinites the annual Spring Hearings begin online at 7 p.m. on April 12 and will remain open for 3 days (72 hours) ONLY!

All questions are available to preview here you do not have to answer every question, you can answer the questions that impact you.

This year there are 23 proposed rule changes related to fisheries and 5 proposed rule changes related to wildlife management. There are also advisory questions from Fisheries, the Natural Resources Board, and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress advisory questions include a variety of natural resource items such as #19 regarding the enforcement of trespass issues,  #4 regarding the establish perennial vegetative buffers along rivers, streams, and ditches, or #7 & 8 requiring in-person ATV/UTV and hunter safety classes.

Wisconsinites were able to recommend changes to natural resource issues by submitting citizen resolutions online by 5 p.m. on April 5. Those who complete the online input form (April 12-15) will be able to view the resolutions submitted by individuals indicating they reside in that county.

“We look forward to hearing from the public on a wide variety of natural resource issues,” said Tony Blattler, chair of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. “We are pleased that we can adjust to the current situation and protect the health of our communities while continuing to provide an opportunity for the public to weigh in.”

Additional Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Marinette and Oconto Counties

PESHTIGO, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirms emerald ash borer in the Town of Peshtigo in Marinette County. This latest confirmation is in addition to the Town of Abrams and City of Oconto Falls in Oconto County.

Previously, both counties positively identified emerald ash borer (EAB), with additional locations in the Towns of Goodman, Niagara and Wagner in Marinette County, and the Towns of Little Suamico and Morgan in Oconto County. The DNR’s Forest Health Specialists estimated that EAB has been present at the new locations for at least 3-4 years.

EAB kills all varieties of ash trees (white ash, green ash and black ash) but is not known to affect any other Wisconsin tree species. More than 99% of Wisconsin’s ash trees are expected to die. Once infested, ash trees generally die in 4-6 years. Due to a local high water table, sustained flooding and record rainfall in 2019, many ash trees in swamps have already been stressed or killed.

Woodpecker damage, thinning of the tree crown from the top, one-eighth inch D-shaped exit holes and branches sprouting low on the trunk could be signs of EAB infestation.

More information on EAB can be found here. For questions about residential trees, landowners are encouraged to check out the University of Wisconsin EAB page for info and management suggestions.

DNR Confirms CWD Detected In Shawano County

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirms a wild deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the Town of Germania in southwestern Shawano County, within 10 miles of Waupaca County. As required by state law, the DNR will renew the baiting and feeding bans in Shawano and Waupaca counties.

The CWD-positive deer was an adult doe harvested during the 2020 gun deer season and was tested as part of the department’s disease surveillance efforts. This is the first wild deer detection in Shawano County.

State law requires that the DNR enact a ban on the baiting and feeding of deer in counties or portions of counties within a 10-mile radius of a wild or farm-raised deer that tests positive for CWD. Baiting and feeding were already banned in Shawano County due to a prior CWD positive detection in a farm-raised facility in 2017.

The DNR will continue surveillance near the CWD positive detection location. Collecting CWD samples is essential for assessing where and to what extent CWD occurs in deer across the state.

As ever, successful CWD management depends in part on citizen involvement in the decision-making process through local County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC).

The upcoming Shawano County CDAC meeting to discuss deer population objectives will be extended to include the new CWD information. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m., with the CWD portion of the agenda beginning at approximately 7:45 p.m. The public is invited to attend. Additional details regarding the Shawano County CDAC is available here. (Select Shawano from the drop-down menu.) Preregistration is not required.

CWD is a fatal, infectious nervous system disease of deer, moose, elk and reindeer/caribou. It belongs to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. CWD occurs only in members of the cervid or deer family – both wild and captive. The Wisconsin DNR began monitoring the state’s wild white-tailed deer population for CWD in 1999. The first positives were found in 2002.

More information regarding baiting and feeding regulations and CWD in Wisconsin is available here. Information on how to have deer tested during the 2020-21 hunting seasons is available here.

DNR Asks Public To Help Shape Deer Management In Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. – Hunters, farmers, foresters and anyone interested in Wisconsin’s deer herd can help shape deer management in Wisconsin. Now through Jan. 13, 2021, the public is invited to comment on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) herd size objectives and deer management unit (DMU) boundaries for the next three years.

Each County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) has provided preliminary recommendations to increase, decrease or maintain herd size. In addition, the public has the opportunity to comment on DMU boundary recommendations proposed by the DNR. To view the preliminary recommendations for each county and provide feedback, visit the DNR’s website.

Following the public comment period, each county’s deer advisory council will meet virtually between Jan. 19-25 to discuss input received and determine final recommendations. The public is invited to attend these meetings, listed on the CDAC webpage. Preregistration is not required.

The DNR will review final council recommendations and present them to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board for approval in February.

CDAC council members represent stakeholder groups impacted by deer management. Members work with local DNR staff to schedule meetings and provide community outreach and an opportunity for public input.

Members review county-level population data and deer impacts on forests and agriculture and develop three-year recommendations on county population objectives as well as annual antlerless harvest quotas. These councils provide the people of Wisconsin greater input into local deer management decisions and are essential for shaping the future of deer hunting and management.