Contact(s): Tim Lizotte, DNR public lands specialist, 262-364-7581
MADISON - Each year, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts use Wisconsin's public lands for a variety of activities, ranging from birdwatching to hunting.
For those interested in exploring all Wisconsin has to offer, the Department of Natural Resources has a number of tools available to help users find a new favorite spot in the wild. Most public lands are open to hunting, however some have closed areas and special regulations and season dates. Be sure to check the property web page or contact a property manager for more information.
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 are reminded to contact landowners beforehand to verify that hunting is allowed on a given property. You can download and print these maps free of charge from your home computer. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "atlas."
The Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Incentive program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture NRCS, provides financial incentives to private landowners who open their property to year-round wildlife-dependent recreation. These lands are open to public use under certain guidelines. VPA lands are displayed on interactive maps on the VPA webpage or through the PAL application. Search keyword "VPA" to learn more.
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. For maps and additional information, search keyword "VPA."
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. Hunters are encouraged to contact their local DNR Forester to learn more about these programs - 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 an FAQ and other helpful information.
State parks provide a range of recreational opportunities. In general, fall gun and archery hunting are allowed in the open areas of state parks during the open season. Be sure to visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "hunting state parks" to learn more.
The Fields and Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool gives hunters an interactive summary of 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."
Participants receive a first-hand look at how the department uses management goals to maintain thousands of acres of property throughout Wisconsin and play a key role in enhancing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for others to enjoy.
Whether through habitat and maintenance work on the property or a financial donation, it has never been easier to play a direct role in conservation. Partner efforts are recognized through signage on the adopted property and department outreach efforts.
Those interested in adopting a State Wildlife Area can participate individually, or as part of a group. If you or your organization is interested, please submit an application [PDF] at the nearest DNR office location. To learn more about adopting a Wisconsin Wildlife Area, visit the department website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword "volunteer."