WGF Opposes SB 999 – Changes to Managed Forest Law

WI Green Fire, February 15, 2024

Wisconsin’s Green Fire submitted a letter of testimony opposing SB 999, a Wisconsin Senate bill that would change Managed Forest Law (MFL) to require enrollees in MFL open enrollment to allow motorized access on all roads.

WGF Letter of Testimony – SB 999 | February 14, 2024

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: “The Managed Forest Law (MFL) program is a landowner incentive program that encourages sustainable forestry on private woodland. In exchange for following sound forest management, the landowner pays reduced property taxes. It was enacted in 1985 and replaced the Woodland Tax Law and the Forest Crop Law.

MFL is the only forest tax law that is open to enrollment. Land enrolled in the MFL program must be managed according to a plan agreed to by the landowner.”

Chair of our Public Lands and Forestry Work Group, Ron Eckstein, prepared this letter to explain our significant concerns with this bill. Among some of our primary concerns for the unintended consequences of SB 999:

  • Likely to result in extensive and expensive damage to roads, surrounding forests, and other habitats.
  • Disincentivize participation in open enrollments. For those who remain, lead to increases in road damage and disruptions to other users, and decreases in public access opportunities for hunting, fishing, and hiking.
  • Increases risks of invasive species spread, litter, vandalism, and forest fire.
  • Increases per-acre taxes by more than 500% if lands transition from open-enrollment to closed.

We conclude the letter by emphasizing our support for appropriate opportunities to expand motorized uses, but SB 999 would create costs and disruptions far greater than any problems it solves. We respectfully oppose this legislation.

Read and download the full letter here.

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