2015 - 2016 LEGISLATURE
December 7, 2015 - Introduced by Senators Tiffany and Moulton, cosponsored by
Representatives Mursau, T. Larson, E. Brooks, Swearingen and Czaja.
Referred to Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry.
1An Act to repeal
77.06 (5), 77.07, 77.82 (1) (bn), 77.82 (4g), 77.83 (1) (a) 1. and 2
2., 77.86 (2), 77.87, 77.88 (2) (a) 1., 77.88 (2) (e), 77.88 (3g), 77.88 (4), 77.88 (5) 3
(a) 1. and 2., 77.88 (5) (ab), 77.88 (5) (ar), 77.88 (5) (b), 77.88 (5) (c) and 77.91 4
(3); to renumber
77.88 (2) (d) 2.; to renumber and amend
77.06 (1) (b) 2., 5
77.82 (12), 77.83 (1) (a) (intro.), 77.86 (1) (b) 2., 77.88 (2) (a) (intro.), 77.88 (2) 6
(a) 2., 77.88 (2) (a) 3., 77.88 (2) (d) 1., 77.88 (2) (f), 77.88 (3) and 77.88 (5) (a) 7
(intro.); to amend
20.370 (1) (cr), 26.06 (1), 74.25 (1) (a) 6., 74.30 (1) (f), 75.36 8
(2) (a), 77.06 (1) (a), 77.06 (1) (c), 77.10 (1) (a), 77.81 (6), 77.82 (1) (a) 1., 77.82 9
(1) (b) 3., 77.82 (2) (dm), 77.82 (4), 77.82 (11), 77.83 (1) (b) 1., 77.88 (2) (am), 77.88 10
(2) (b), 77.88 (2) (c), 77.88 (3) (title), 77.88 (5) (am) 1., 77.88 (5m), 77.88 (8) (b), 11
77.88 (11), 77.89 (1) (a), 77.89 (2) (b) and 77.91 (3m); and to create
23.27 (3) (c), 77.06 (1) (b) 2. b., 77.06 (1) (b) 2. c., 77.06 (1) (b) 2. d., 77.81 (4m), 13
77.82 (1) (bp), 77.82 (12) (a) 2., 77.82 (12) (a) 4., 77.82 (12) (a) 5., 77.82 (12) (a) 14
6., 77.83 (1) (am), 77.83 (1) (d), 77.86 (1) (b) 2. a., 77.86 (1) (b) 2. b., 77.86 (1) (b)
2. c., 77.86 (1) (b) 2. d., 77.86 (1) (e), 77.86 (1) (f), 77.88 (2) (a) (title), 77.88 (2) 2
(ac) (title), 77.88 (2m), 77.88 (3) (am), 77.88 (3) (b) 1. (intro.) and 2., 77.88 (3) (d), 3
77.88 (3j), 77.88 (3k), 77.88 (3L), 77.88 (4m), 77.88 (5) (ac), 77.88 (5) (am) (title), 4
77.91 (6) (d) and 77.91 (8) of the statutes; relating to: taxes on managed forest
5lands, eligibility for the managed forest land program, management plans for
6managed forest land, sale or transfer of managed forest land, productivity of
7managed forest land, closed managed forest land, forest production areas,
8natural heritage inventory, wildlife action plans, providing an exemption from
9emergency rule procedures, and granting rule-making authority.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill makes numerous changes to the managed forest land (MFL) program
administered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Under current law, certain forested land may be designated as MFL under a
program administered by DNR. Under this program, the owner of land designated
as MFL makes an annual acreage share payment that is lower than, and in lieu of,
the property taxes that normally would be payable. In exchange, the owner must
comply with certain forestry practices and have a management plan prepared for the
land. The owner must also open the MFL to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking,
sight-seeing, and cross-country skiing, but may designate up to a certain number
of acres as being closed to the public. For MFL that is designated as closed, the owner
must pay an additional closed acreage fee. An owner seeking to have land designated
as MFL submits an application to DNR that contains a management plan for the
land. If the MFL meets the eligibility requirements under the program, which
include minimum acreage requirements and requirements as to how much
merchantable timber can be produced on the land, DNR approves the application
and issues an order designating the land as MFL. An owner may choose to have the
order last 25 or 50 years.
A similar program exists for land designated as forest croplands (FCL). Since
July 1985, no new land may be subject to the FCL program. However, there is forest
land that is currently in this program since the designations last for 25 or 50 years.
Taxes and fees
Under current law, an owner pays a severance tax for wood products removed
from FCL and a yield tax for merchantable timber cut from MFL. This bill eliminates
Under current law, subject to limitations, land may be withdrawn from the
MFL program with payment of a withdrawal tax. The withdrawal tax is the higher
of two amounts: the amount of past tax liability, less the taxes paid, or 5 percent of
the fair market value of the merchantable timber on the land, less the taxes paid.
Variations on this method of calculating the withdrawal taxes are used depending
on when the land was designated as MFL, how long the land has been designated as
MFL, and whether the MFL is subject to an original order or an order that has been
renewed. Under this bill, those methods are replaced with a single method of
calculating this tax: the total net property tax rate imposed by the municipality in
which the land is located is multiplied by the assessed value of the land being
withdrawn, with the result then multiplied by ten years, or the number of years the
MFL was subject to the order, whichever is fewer.
Under current law, the amount that is collected as closed acreage fees is
collected by the applicable taxation district and paid to the applicable county, which
pays these amounts to DNR for deposit into the conservation fund. This bill requires
the taxation district to retain 80 percent of the closed acreage fees and to pay 20
percent of the closed acreage fees to the county. None of the amount collected is paid
Under current law, a parcel of land is eligible for designation as MFL only if it
consists of at least ten contiguous acres. Under this bill, the minimum acreage
requirement is increased to 20 acres, but the owner of an MFL parcel of less than 20
acres may apply for a one-time renewal of the order designating the parcel as MFL
without meeting the 20-acre requirement.
Under current law, a parcel that is developed for a human residence is not
eligible for designation as MFL. Under the bill, a parcel is not eligible if there is any
building or improvement associated with a building located on the parcel. The bill
defines "building" to include any structure used as shelter, as a place of employment,
or as storage and "improvement" to include any accessory building, structure, or
fixture that is placed on a parcel for the parcel's benefit. The bill specifically excludes
roads, certain rights-of-way, fences, hunting blinds, and other structures from being
considered improvements. This bill requires DNR to promulgate rules relating to
hunting blinds and authorizes emergency rule making.
Under current law, the owner of land that is designated as managed forest land
under an order that takes effect on or after April 28, 2004, may file an application
with DNR to designate as managed forest land an additional parcel of land if the
additional parcel is at least three acres in size and is contiguous to any of that
designated land. This bill allows any owner of MFL to apply to designate an
additional parcel of land as MFL regardless of the date of the order designating the
land as MFL. The tax rate applicable to an added parcel is the tax rate currently
applicable to the parcel to which the land is being added.
Under current law, an amendment to or repeal of the MFL subchapter of the
statutes does not affect the terms of an order or management plan, except as
expressly agreed to in writing by the land owner and DNR. Under this bill, subject
to certain exceptions, DNR may not amend or otherwise change the terms of an order
or management plan to conform with changes made to the statutes subsequent to the
date on which the order was entered or the plan was approved. If a statute is enacted
or a rule is promulgated during the period of the order that materially changes the
terms of the order, the state shall require the landowner to elect between acceptance
of modifications to the contract or voluntary withdrawal of the land without penalty.
Under current law, an MFL order may be renewed at the end of its term. DNR
may deny an application for renewal only if the land does not comply with the
eligibility requirements, the owner has failed to comply with the management plan
for the MFL, or delinquent taxes are owed on the land. Under this bill, DNR may
deny the application if the land that is subject to the renewal application is not
identical to the MFL under the existing order or if certain requirements for
establishing, updating, and reviewing mandatory forestry soil and conservation
practices in a management plan are not met.
Sales and transfers of land
Under current law, an owner may sell or transfer an entire parcel of MFL. An
owner may also sell or transfer part of a parcel of MFL, if the land being sold or
transferred is all of the owner's land located in a quarter-quarter section or in a
government lot or fractional lot, provided that the land remaining meets the
eligibility requirements for designation as MFL. Under the bill, an owner may
voluntarily withdraw part of an MFL parcel for the purpose of selling it or using it
as a construction site. The land withdrawn may not be less than one acre and may
not be more than five acres. The bill limits the number of times that MFL may be
withdrawn for this purpose and requires the owner to pay the withdrawal taxes and
the withdrawal fee.
Productivity of land
This bill creates a provision that allows an owner of MFL that has been
damaged by a natural disaster to restore the productivity of the land so that it meets
the requirements under the MFL program for producing merchantable timber. If the
owner fails to complete the restoration within a time period specified by DNR, either
DNR may order withdrawal of the land or the owner of the land may request
withdrawal of the land. The owner is exempt from payment of withdrawal taxes if
the owner makes the request and DNR determines that the MFL is unable to meet
the production requirements for merchantable timber and if the owner withdraws
only the number of acres necessary for the parcel to again meet the production
requirements. This bill defines "natural disaster" as fire, ice, snow, wind, flooding,
insects, drought, or disease.
This bill also allows an owner who is unable to meet the requirements for
producing merchantable timber for environmental, ecological, or economic reasons
to request withdrawal of that part of a parcel that is unsuitable for the production
of merchantable timber. The owner is exempt from payment of withdrawal taxes or
Under current law, a person may not cut any merchantable wood products on
FCL or any merchantable timber on MFL unless the owner has filed a notice with
DNR. DNR may prescribe the amount of forest products or timber to be removed
unless the notice of intention to cut was provided to DNR by a cooperating forester
authorized to assist in the harvesting and sale of timber or by an accredited forester.
Under this bill, DNR may not prescribe the amount of forest products or timber to
be removed if the notice of intention to cut was provided to DNR by additional
persons meeting specified education and work experience requirements.
Under current law, an owner may designate MFL as closed to public access. The
closed area may consist of a quarter-quarter section, a government lot, a fractional
lot, or a combination thereof or up to 160 acres in each municipality. Under this bill,
an owner may designate any MFL as closed to public access, and the limit on acreage
that can be designated as closed applies only to land owned by a business entity.
This bill also allows an owner of land designated as closed to permit a person
who performs land management activities on the land to access the land to conduct
Under current law, a "forest production area" is an area in a state forest that
DNR has classified as an area in which the primary management objective relates
to the production of timber and other forest products. This bill requires DNR to
propose a variance to the master plans of all state forests except for the southern
state forests and Governor Knowles State Forest so that 75 percent of all the land
in those state forests combined is classified as a forest production area.
Under current law, DNR conducts a natural heritage inventory program to
determine the existence and degree of endangerment of natural areas. Under this
bill, activities under the program related to private property may be conducted only
with the permission of the property owner.
This bill authorizes DNR to prepare a state wildlife action plan that identifies
which native wildlife species with low or declining populations are most at risk and
that provides guidance for activities to conserve those species. The plan may not
require action by property owners or the department and may not be referenced as
guidance on DNR forms.
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
20.370 (1) (cr) of the statutes is amended to read:
(cr) Forestry — recording fees.
All moneys received under ss. 77.82 3
(2m) (d) and (4) and 77.88 (2) (d) (ac) 1.
for the payment of fees to the registers of deeds 4
under s. 77.91 (5).
23.0951 of the statutes is created to read: