Find
a forester.
Enroll
forested land into a tax incentive program.
Contact information
Use the Forestry Assistance Locator to find Cooperating Foresters or DNR Service Foresters for your county
View the current Directory of Foresters [PDF].

Forest Tax Law Lands Open to Public Recreation

Wisconsin's forest tax laws encourage sustainable forest management on private lands by providing a property tax incentive to landowners. Some of these privately held forest lands also allow for public access for recreation. To legally access these lands for the authorized recreational uses, you need to know which program the land is enrolled in.

Managed Forest Law (MFL)

Lands enrolled under the Managed Forest Law program as “open” to public access allow for hunting, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing, and cross-country skiing.

Forest Crop Law (FCL)

Lands enrolled under the Forest Crop Law program allow for public hunting and fishing.

Both tax laws require that all hunting and fishing follow the DNR hunting and fishing seasons and regulations.

How do I know which tax law lands are open to public recreation?

  • To view the open tax law lands, you can use the Private Forest Lands Open to Public Recreation web mapping application.
  • You can also use the open lands listings. A list of open land is created in March of each year. The list shows legal descriptions only. You may need to reference county plat books to identify ownership boundaries, roads, rivers, lakes, and other physical land features. Plat books can be purchased from your county clerk, directly from the publisher, or are available at public libraries.

       MFL Open Lands Listing:

       FCL Open Lands Listing:

To order a hard copy of the open lands listings, please use the Open Land Listing Order Form (form 2450-190) [PDF]. Please allow 3-4 weeks for mail delivery.

More precise locations of the lands enrolled in parts of a legal description are shown in maps recorded at the register of deeds office or at local DNR offices.

Contact

DNR Foresters can answer questions about the MFL and FCL programs and provide you with more precise maps. You can use the Forestry Assistance Locator to find the DNR Forester(s) who has responsibility for each county.

If you are a landowner who owns MFL-closed lands, non-MFL lands, or non-FCL lands, and you suspect the public is trespassing on your property, contact the local sheriff’s department or other local law enforcement agency. Conservation Wardens do not have the authority to investigate trespassing complaints.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please select a category:
  Activities allowed on MFL-Open and FCL lands
  Finding information about the location of MFL-Open and FCL lands
  Accessing MFL-Open and FCL lands
  Signage of MFL-Open and FCL lands
  Hunting on MFL-Open and FCL lands
  Leasing of MFL lands

FAQs: Leasing of MFL lands

Question Answer
Can I lease MFL lands for hunting or recreation?

No, leasing of MFL land is prohibited. Any type of agreement in which "consideration" is made to the landowner in the form of cash, goods or services would be a violation of the MFL program.

Why are landowners who are enrolled in MFL not allowed to lease their lands to hunters?

Landowners may choose whether to enroll their lands into MFL and to allow public access. Landowners who close lands to public access are limited to 160 acres. Additional lands that are enrolled must remain Open to public access. The leasing prohibition removes the incentive for landowners to subdivide properties in an effort to close more lands to the public, then turn around and lease those lands, when landowners could have left the lands in the MFL-Open tax status.

I would like to give the landowner a gift for allowing me to hunt on their property. Am I in violation of the MFL program's leasing prohibition?

No, landowners who receive gifts from hunters that are given freely and not as a condition to hunt the property are not in violation of the leasing prohibition.

When would a gift received from a hunter be in violation of the MFL program's leasing prohibition?

An MFL landowner who requires that a gift be provided the landowner in exchange for the hunter gaining access to the land is in violation of the MFL program's leasing prohibition.

Last revised: Monday, March 24, 2014