LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

to be a cooperating forester.
a certified plan writer.
aerial photography.
Contact information
Ron Gropp
Private forestry staff specialist
Rob Anderson
Private forestry specialist
Use the Forestry Assistance Locator to find cooperating foresters or DNR service foresters for your county or view the current Directory of Foresters [PDF].

Wisconsin Forest Management Guidelines

Wisconsin Forest Management Guidelines
Wisconsin Forest Management Guidelines

The Wisconsin Forest Management Guidelines celebrates the wealth of our forest resources and emphasizes our responsibility to care for them. It outlines practical, site-specific considerations that land managers need to take into account when they plan and carry out forestry operations. The guidelines cover sustainable forest management principles that can serve recreation, wildlife habitat improvement, endangered species protection, water quality, forest products and many other objectives.


The 400-plus-page Wisconsin Forest Management Guidelines is written for resource managers and enthusiasts. As a result, it might be somewhat difficult for a general reader, but our hope is that it is straightforward and appealing enough to be easily understood.

Available formats

The 2011 revision of the guidelines is available at no cost in digital and print media:

  • View or download the guidelines in PDF format
  • Order a free copy of the guidelines on CD. The CD includes a PDF version of the guidelines. Mail your request for a CD to: Wisconsin DNR - Forestry Publications, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.
  • Obtain a printed version of the book if you are a Wisconsin natural resource manager, Wisconsin timber producer or Wisconsin forestry enthusiast. Due to a limited supply, DNR and partners will distribute the print edition primarily at training sessions.

This is the first revision of the original 2003 publication. Instead of doing a bound printing it has been printed in a loose leaf (three-ring binder) style (binder not included). This was done so that individual chapters and appendices could be revised without having to reprint the entire book.

Application of the guidelines is voluntary but the document does refer to statutes, administrative rules and programs that could involve mandatory procedures or prohibitions. In those situations, users are encouraged to review original source regulations for specifications that might not be covered in the guidelines.

View or download the guidelines

The table of contents for the Wisconsin Forest Management Guidelines (Pub-FR-226 2011) is provided below. Under each chapter is a list of the topics covered in that chapter (click on the chapter title to view the chapter in PDF format).

Check the revision date

The Wisconsin Forest Management Guidelines was printed in a manner that will allow us to revise individual chapters without having to reprint/recreate the entire book. Adjacent to the chapter title is the revision date for the chapter (e.g. 'Rev 2011' means the chapter was last revised in 2011). The revision date will change as information is updated within the chapter. Check this site periodically to make sure you have the most recent revisions.

Foreward [PDF] Rev 2011

Table of contents

Purpose [PDF] Rev 2011
Wisconsin's Forests: A Quick Overview [PDF] Rev 2011
A Statewide Snapshot of Wisconsin's Forests
  • Wisconsin's Forests
  • Forest Area
  • Forest Types
  • Number of Trees
  • Timber Volume
  • Growth and Removals
  • Economic Importance
  • Biodiversity
  • Ownership
  • Urban Forests
A Brief History of Wisconin's Forests
  • Forests Before European/American Settlement
  • Forests Since European/American Settlement
Chapter 2 — Generally Accepted Silvicultural Practices [PDF] Rev 2011
Sustainable Forestry
Landowner Goals and Objectives
Site Evaluation and Stand
  • Forest Cover Types and Silvicultural Alternatives
Silvicultural Systems Overview
Even-aged Silvicultural Systems
  • Even-aged Harvest and Regeneration Methods
  • Even-aged Tending Methods
  • Even-aged Harvest Considerations
Uneven-aged Silvicultural Systems
  • Uneven-aged Harvest and Regeneration Methods
  • Uneven-aged Tending Methods
  • Uneven-aged Harvest Considerations
Passive or Non-management Opitons
Silvicultural Systems Summary
  • Table 2-1: Generally Accepted Regeneration Methods By Forest Cover Type
Salvage Harvests
Unsustainable Cutting Methods
Management Prescriptions
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 3 — Wildlife Habitat and Biodiversity [PDF] Rev 2011
Specific Wildlife Habitat Guidelines
  • Leave Trees and Snags
  • Coarse Woody Debris and Slash
  • Conifer Retention and Regeneration
  • Mast
  • Harvesting Patterns
  • Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern Species
  • Natural Communities, High Conservation Value Forests, and State Natural Areas
  • Ephemeral Ponds
  • Riparian Wildlife Habitat
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 4 — Visual Quality [PDF] Rev 2011
The Value of Visual Quality
  • A Concern for Aesthetic Quality
  • Benefits of Visual Quality Management
Visual Sensitivity Levels
  • Recognizing Different Levels of Visual Sensitivity
  • Visual Sensitivity Levels
  • The Value of Recognizing Different Levels of Visual Sensitivity
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 5 — Riparian Areas and Wetlands [PDF] Rev 2011
The Value of Riparian Areas
  • A Transition from Aquatic to Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • Protecting Water Quality
  • Forestry BMPs for Water Quality
Riparian Management Zones
  • What Exactly is a Riparian Management Zone?
  • Regulations
BMPs for Riparian Management Zones
  • BMPs Common to All Three RMZ Categories
  • BMPs: Lakes, Trout Streams and Streams 3 Feet Wide and Wider
  • BMPs: Streams Less Than 3 Feet Wide
  • BMPs: Streams Less Than 1 Foot Wide
  • Wetland Identification
  • BMPs: General Wetlands
  • Regulations
  • BMPs: Wetland Filter Strip
Chapter 6 — Cultural Resources [PDF] Rev 2011
Cultural Resources
  • Forest Management for the Protection of Cultural Resources
  • What Cultural Resources Are
  • Economics of Cultural Resource Management
  • Potential Impacts
  • Cultural Resource Management and the Law
  • Cultural Resource Inventories
  • Assessing Cultural Resources
  • Field Identification of Cultural Resources
  • Assessing Management Alternatives
  • When Accidental Discovery Occurs
Chapter 7 — Forest Soil Productivity [PDF] Rev 2011
The Value of Forest Soil Productivity
  • Sustainable Soil Productivity
Soil Characteristics and Potential Impacts
  • Three Related Groups of Soil Characteristics
  • Characteristic 1: Physical Characteristics of Soil and Potential Impacts
  • Characteristic 2: Chemical Characteristics of Soil and Potential Impacts
  • Characteristic 3: Biological Characteristics of Soil and Potential Impacts
Applying Guidelines to Varying Site Conditions

Chapter 8 — Invasive Plants, Insects and Diseases [PDF] Rev 2011
What are Invasive Species?
Invasive Species are a Threat to Forests
Invasive Species may Alter Forest Stewardship
Forestry Practices can Influence the Spread of Invasive Species
Elements of Invasive Species Management
  • Prevention
  • Early Detection and Rapid Responses
  • Control
  • Monitoring
  • Restoration
Implementing Invasive Insect and Disease Management
Forest BMPs for Invasive Species
  • BMPs: General
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 9 — Economics [PDF] Rev 2011
Balancing Economic Considerations and Other Forest Values
Basic Forest Management and Economics: Three Things Every Forest Landowner Should Know
  1. How to Increase the Returns from Forestry Investments
  2. How Forest Products Are Sold
  3. How to Get Fair Market Value for Your Timber
Advanced Forest Economics: An Investment Analysis Primer
Tax and Record-keeping Considerations
  • The Original Basis: A Key Tax Consideration
  • Forestry-related Tax Deductions
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 10 — Forest Management Planning [PDF] Rev 2011
Forest Management Planning
  • Incorporating Sustainability into Forest Management Plans
  • Forest Management Plan Elements
  • BMPs: Invasive Species
Chapter 11 — General Operations Guidelines [PDF] Rev 2011
Operational Considerations
  • Timing and Coordination of Activities
  • Designing Operations to Fit Site Conditions
  • Managing and Minimizing Infrastructure
  • Management Activity Planning Checklist
Protecting Cultural Resources
Fuels, Lubricants, Waste, and Spills
  • Fuels, Lubricants and Waste
  • Spills
  • BMPs: Spills
Post-Operational Activities
  • BMPs: Nonpoint Source Pollution Prevention
BMPs Operational Activities
  • BMPs: Invasive Species
Chapter 12 — Forest Road Construction and Maintenance [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Integrated Resource Management Considerations
Upland Forest Roads
  • BMPs: Planning, Location and Design
Stream Crossing Design and Construction
  • BMPs: Stream Crossings
  • BMPs: Culverts for Stream Crossings
  • BMPs: Fords
  • BMPs: Temporary Stream Crossings
Road Construction and Drainage
  • BMPs: Road Construction
Drainage Structures
  • BMPs: Drainage Structures
Soil Stabilization
  • BMPs: Soil Stabilization
Wetland Forest Roads
  • BMPs: Wetland Roads, Skid Trails and Landings
Federal Requirements for Forest Roads in Wetlands
Road Maintenance
  • BMPs: Road Maintenance
  • BMPs: Invasive Species
Chapter 13 — Timber Harvesting [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Integrated Resource Management Considerations
Planning and Design Considerations
  • Soil Productivity
  • Water Quality and Wetlands
  • BMP: Planning and Design
  • Visual Quality
  • Cultural Resources
  • Slash Management and Landings
  • Reserve Trees, Wildlife Trees, Coarse Woody Debris, and Snags
  • Harvesting Implementation
Operational Considerations
  • Protecting Soil Productivity
  • Protecting Water Quality and Wetlands
  • BMPs: Protecting Sensitive Areas
  • Protecting Cultural Resources
  • Skid Trails
  • BMPs: Skid Trails
  • Landings
  • BMPs: Landings
  • Minimizing Rutting
  • BMP: Rutting
  • Managing Slash
  • BMP: Slash
  • Snags (Standing Dead Trees)
  • Reserve(Leave) Trees
  • Providing Coarse Woody Debris
  • Managing the Harvesting Process
  • Understanding Harvesting Equipment and Harvesting Systems
  • The Timber Sale Contract
  • Five Steps in a Careful and Successful Timber Sale
  • Understanding the Sample Timber Sale Contract
  • Contract Breach: A Very Serious Decision
  • What is Reasonable?
Post-Operational Activities
  • BMPs: Invasive Species
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 14 — Pesticide Use [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Integrated Resource Management Considerations
  • BMP: Invasive Species
  • Considering All Your Options: Integrated Pest Management
  • Pesticide Characteristics Affecting Ground and Surface water Contamination Potential
  • Selecting Pesticides
  • Selecting Application Methods
  • Spill Response
  • BMP: Spill Response
Operational Considerations
  • Transportation of Pesticides
  • Storage of Pesticides
  • Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know
  • Mixing and Loading Operations
  • BMP: Mixing and Loading Operations
  • Pre-Application Activities
  • Timing and Weather Considerations
  • BMP: Timing and Weather Conditions
  • Applying Pesticides
  • BMPs: Applying Pesticides
  • Protecting Water Resources
  • BMPs: Protecting Water Resources
Post-Operational Activities
  • Equipment Clean-up and Container and Waste Disposal
  • BMP: Equipment Clean-up
  • BMP: Container and Waste Disposal
Forest Certification
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 15 — Reforestation and Afforestation [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Integrated Resource Management Considerations
Planning and Design
  • Setting Goals
  • Site Evaluation
  • Planting Design
  • Species Selection
  • Spacing
  • Planting Arrangement
  • Direct Seeding Versus Seedlings
  • Seed Source Selection
  • Planting Stock Type Selection
Operational Activities
  • Site Preparation
  • BMPs: Protecting Resources
  • Planting
Post-Operational Considerations
  • Monitoring Program
  • Vegetation Control
  • Animal Control
  • Insect and Disease Control
  • Weather and Environmental Damage
  • BMPs: Invasive Species
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 16 — Intermediate Silvicultural Treatments [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Integrated Resource Management Considerations
Operational Considerations
  • Release
  • Thinning
  • Thinning Clumps of Trees
  • Improvement Cutting
  • Salvage and Sanitation Cutting
  • Pruning
Post-Operational Activities
  • BMPs: Invasive Species
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 17 — Fire Management [PDF] Rev 2011
Part I: Wildfire Management
  • Protection of Resources from Wildfire
  • Protection of Property from Wildfire
Part II: Prescribed Fire Management
  • Integrated Resource Management Considerations
Planning and Design
  • Burn Plan Management
  • Land Management Objectives
  • Factors Influencing Fire Behavior
Operational Considerations
  • Fire Spread Patterns
  • Ignition patterns
  • Firebreaks
  • Managing Firebreaks and Accesses
  • BMP: Managing Firebreaks and Accesses
  • Protecting Water Quality
  • BMPs: Protecting Water Quality
  • Smoke Management Considerations
  • Safety Considerations
  • Pre-burn Briefing
Post-Operational Activities
  • Post-burn Monitoring
  • Fire Effects Evaluation
  • BMPs: Post-operational Activities
  • BMPs: Invasive Species
Resources for Additional Information

Chapter 18 — Forest Recreation Management [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Integrated Resource Management Considerations
Planning and Design
Operational Considerations
  • Construction
  • BMPs: Invasive Species
  • Operations
Resources for Additional Information


Appendix A: Tree Marking and Retention Guidelines [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Timber Management – Crop Tree Selection
  • Timber Management – Selecting Trees to Cut and the Standard Order of Removal
  • Timber Management – General Criteria to Evaluate Risk, Vigor, Quality, Species, and Spacing for Tree Selection
  • Wildlife Tree and Snag Retention Criteria
  • Reserve Trees
  • Reserve Trees, Mast Trees, Cavity Trees, and Snags – Recommendations for Retension in Managed Stands
Appendix B: Sample Timber Sale Contract [PDF] Rev 2011
Appendix C: Forest Certification [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Forest Certification Systems: Summary and Overview
  • Relating Certification Standards, Principles, and Objectives to Wisconsin Forest Management Guidelines
Appendix D: Regulation Relating to Forest Management [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Wisconsin Laws
  • Federal Laws
Appendix E: Permits [PDF] Rev 2011
Appendix F: Cited References [PDF] Rev 2011
Appendix G: Resource Directory [PDF] Rev 2011
  • Forest Management Assistance and Education
  • Cultural Resource Assistance
  • Non-timber Products
  • Petroleum Spills
  • Sources of Maps and Planning Tools
  • Financial Incentive Programs
  • Fish and Wildlife Habitat, Wetland Protection
  • Forest Health Protection
  • Water Crossings
  • Prescribed Burning
  • Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern Species
  • Pesticide Use
  • Other Resources
Appendix H: Glossary [PDF] Rev 2011

All photo and figure credits are listed on or below the image. Note that some photos and figures need permission for reproduction and are protected by copyright laws. Contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, for required permission and further copyright information.

Last revised: Tuesday August 25 2015