For Antigo Times
MADISON – Under the direction of the 2013-15 state biennial budget bill, the Natural Resources Board will review Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommendations for the second phase of land sales when it meets Feb. 24 in Madison.
State law directed the Natural Resources Board to offer 10,000 acres of land for sale by June 30, 2017 – proceeds from these land sales will repay outstanding public debt related to the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program. The department 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 one percent of the department’s total land ownership.
The law only affects lands located outside of official project boundaries established prior to May 1, 2013. A project boundary is created through 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.
Land sales under this law will help the department achieve the following objectives:
- realign land ownership for more efficient management;
- repurpose lands that do not 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; and
- resolve boundary and access issues.
The Natural Resources Board approved a policy for reviewing parcels for possible sale under this new law in December 2013. The department released an initial list of 118 parcels being reviewed under the policy in July 2015. During the review process, an additional 31 parcels were identified for possible sale.
Final department recommendations include 82 parcels, totaling 5,900 acres to be offered for sale. Department recommendations have been divided into the following categories:
- 23 parcels, totaling 2,405 acres, to be offered to municipalities and tribal nations;
- 36 parcels, totaling 2,494 acres, to be offered only to adjoining landowners; and
- 23 parcels, totaling 1,001 acres, to be offered for sale through a public bidding process.
Specific information related to the marketing of parcels available for public bid will be made available as the marketing occurs. In addition to phase two land sale recommendations, the department recommends that 35 parcels, totaling 1,632 acres, be retained by the department and 32 parcels, totaling 2,195 acres, be held for further study in the next phase.