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Wisconsin forestry tax break program gives taxpayers bill, landowners benefit

There are more than 1 million acres in Wisconsin open to the public through a forestry tax break program. Good news for hunters and hikers ... if only they could find it. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Raquel Rutledge found while taxpayers pick up the tab, it can be nearly impossible for anyone other than the landowner to enjoy the promised benefits. The DNR doesn't provide any statewide maps showing the location of managed forest properties in the program. Instead, it supplies only a legal description that doesn't include roads, borders of the property or access points County plat books don't have key details, either. Even with a hand-held GPS, hunters can't pinpoint the managed forest property using the DNR's available information. And, some of the locations are landlocked, meaning - once found - visitors would have to trespass to reach them. State officials don't track the total value of the property or how much the managed forest program costs Wisconsinites, but an analysis by the Journal Sentinel found that the more than 31,500 parcels enrolled - and meant for public recreation - are worth nearly $2 billion. And it translates into annual tax subsidy of as much as $29 million.

 

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