Wisconsin’s Managed Forest Law (MFL) program offers tax incentives to landowners to follow sustainable forestry practices in the management of their forestland. We are frequently asked about the current state of the law so would like to provide some highlights.
Act 358, passed by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2016, made significant changes to the MFL program with the intention of providing more flexibility to the forest landowner in Wisconsin:
Severance Taxes Have Been Eliminated
Prior to 2016, MFL landowners were required to pay a 5 percent tax on the value of harvested timber if the harvest occurred after five years of MFL enrollment. This removal of the severance tax from the MFL included efforts with the state, county, and local municipalities to re-distribute these tax receipts more towards the local levels.
Partial Withdrawal with DNR Approval
If the DNR determines that a stand of timber is no longer suitable for the MFL program due to environmental, ecological, or economic concerns of merchantable timber, in some instances there will be no withdrawal fees applied.
MFL Closed Entry Per Municipality Limit Lifted to 320 Acres
With the MFL closed acreage limit increased from 160 acres to 320 acres, now more land can be enrolled in the MFL closed designation. Also note that 2017 and future entries have a minimum acreage limit of 20 acres, as opposed to the previous 10-acre limit, regardless of open or closed classification.
Recreational and Hunting Leases Are Now Allowed on MFL Closed Properties
Leasing has been on the hot plate for years and the combination of leasing and sustainable forest management provides economic benefits for many forest landowners. These closed lands that are leased are not open to the public, yet these lands provide great opportunities for individuals who seek privacy.
Construction or Small Land Sale Exemption
Act 358 also provides the MFL landowner the opportunity to remove 1 to 5 acres of MFL enrolled land to build or sell. This is a significant change offering landowners flexibility and potentially resolving MFL eligibility issues.
Accessibility to Open MFL Lands
Open lands are now required to allow the public physical access to the open land. The methods of access require reasonable access such as foot travel, water access, or access through other lands open to the public.
Act 358 prohibits the enrollment of a parcel in MFL if there is a building or improvement associated with that parcel. This change applies to all 2017 and future entries.
If you have questions about the MFL program, feel free to contact us. Our experts will take the time to understand your situation so that we can help you make the right decisions to achieve your goals.