Contact(s): Tim Lizotte, public lands specialist, (262)-364-7581
MADISON - Wisconsin is home to many excellent public lands, and the Department of Natural Resources provides programs and resources to find a new favorite spot to enjoy for National Public Lands Day Sept. 30.
Public Access Lands Atlas
Those in search of public hunting and trapping grounds this fall are reminded to check out the department's Public Access Lands atlas. The atlas includes all DNR properties, as well as nearly all federal and county-owned lands. Hunters should contact the property managing agency if they are unsure if hunting is allowed on a given property.
Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Incentive Program
The Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, provides financial incentives to private landowners who open their property to year-round wildlife-dependent recreation as well improve wildlife habitat.
Currently, 227 VPA properties and approximately 31,000 acres are available for public use in Wisconsin this fall through the program. These lands are open to public hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife observation. All VPA lands have property maps along with being displayed on interactive maps on the VPA webpage or through the PAL application. Search keyword "VPA" to learn more.
VPA lands are clearly posted with a 'Private Lands leased for Public Access' sign. Property access is limited to foot traffic only and only portable, temporary blinds and stands can be used. Feedback about user experience is essential to the continued success of this program - users are encouraged to complete an evaluation survey found at each VPA property, or use the QR code found on the sign posting to access the online version of the survey. For a code of conduct (available in three languages), maps and additional information, search keyword "VPA."
Managed Forest and Forest Crop Law Programs
Managed Forest Law and Forest Crop Law are landowner-incentive programs that incorporate sustainable forest practices, like timber harvest and wildlife management, while improving public access to these lands.
Landowners who enroll may choose an "open" or "closed" designation for public recreation. Lands open to public recreation are available only for hunting, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, and sight-seeing. Landowners and hunters who are interested in learning more about these programs are encouraged to contact their local DNR forester - search keywords "forest landowner," then click "find professional help" and use the Forestry Assistance Locator to find a DNR forester who has responsibility for that area of Wisconsin.
A mapping tool shows the approximate location of all MFL-Open and FCL lands in Wisconsin. Here, landowner info, acreage and enrollment information is also available. To access the mapping tool, search keywords "MFL open land." For more general information regarding these programs, search keywords "managed forest law" and "forest crop law" for a FAQ and other helpful information.
Wisconsin's State Parks
State parks provide a range of recreational opportunities. During the fall gun and archery hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of most State Parks during the open season from Nov. 15 - Dec. 15., except that hunting with legal archery methods is allowed through the Sunday nearest Jan. 6. It is important to remember that not all state parks are open to hunting - search keywords "hunting state parks" for more information.
To find a park near you, search keywords "parks."
The Fields and Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool gives hunters an interactive way to locate young aspen and alder habitat to find woodcock and ruffed grouse hunting areas, pheasant-stocked public hunting grounds, and dove fields found on public hunting lands throughout Wisconsin.
Features available within the program help hunters locate DNR public parking areas, overlay township descriptions, and provide access to maps and aerial photos of prospective hunting areas. Users can also print maps and find GPS coordinates to assist in navigation and estimate acreage and walking distance.
The mapping application is compatible with all major desktop and mobile web browsers (internet access is required). Mobile users can use FFLIGHT on-the-go to find habitat suitable for the species they wish to pursue. To learn more, search keyword "FFLIGHT."
How else can you connect with the department?
To celebrate National Public Lands Day, the department's Facebook page has highlighted a public property each day throughout the month of September. Be sure to check out each featured property and find a new place to enjoy the outdoors.
The department uses current technology to reach users of all ages and backgrounds and provide for convenience, whether they are already afield or looking for new places to explore. Be sure to visit DNR's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn pages to learn more and connect with DNR staff.