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MADISON – The Natural Resources Board today approved recommendations from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the first phase of land sales to occur under the direction of the 2013-15 state biennial budget bill.
The 2013-15 state biennial budget directed the Natural Resources Board to make 10,000 acres of land available for sale by June 30, 2017. This new law specifies that net proceeds from the sale of these lands will be used to repay outstanding public debt related to the Knowles Nelson Stewardship program.
“This new land sales effort is the result of a directive from the Wisconsin state legislature,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has done wonders for our state’s natural resources – this next step will ensure that it continues to create new recreational opportunities throughout the state.”
The Wisconsin Legislature created the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program in 1989 to preserve valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protect water quality and fisheries and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation. Since its inception, the program has added more than 600,000 acres of land for public recreation through direct purchase or easement.
Those interested in locating public access properties throughout Wisconsin are encouraged to utilize tools created by the department. A Public Access Lands atlas and online mapping application are available to help locate public lands.
DNR currently owns approximately 1,517,454 acres in fee title ownership and 300,267 acres in easements. The sale of 10,000 acres represents less than 1% of the Department’s total land ownership.
The sale of land under this new law will help the department achieve the following objectives:
· Realign land ownership for more efficient management.
· Repurpose lands that don’t serve the department’s mission to more suitable use.
· Work with other organizations to meet common property and conservation goals.
· Direct limited land management funds to properties that serve the department’s mission.
· Resolve boundary and access issues.
The law will only affect lands located outside of official project boundaries established prior to May 1, 2013. A project boundary is created by a feasibility study, master plan or other official action by the Natural Resources Board. The department currently has over 600 named projects with established project boundaries.
In addition to the involvement of the public and state and local officials, the department conducted field reviews to evaluate the conservation and recreation values of each land parcel.
Parcels with legal access from a public road will be offered for sale to local or tribal governments with expressed interest in the parcel and later to the general public through a competitive bidding process.
In all cases, the department will work closely with local municipalities and adjoining landowners to ensure that trail corridors and/or easements are perpetuated prior to marketing any parcel for sale and that the Department retains access as necessary to adjoining lands.
It is important to note that there is no specific timeline for marketing any of the parcels. When each parcel is cleared for sale it will be marketed as outlined above.
For more information, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “land sales.” To view the department’s online mapping application and learn more about the public access lands atlas, search keyword “PAL.”