Wisconsin considers conservation easement deal with Plum Creek that would guarantee public access to more than 10,000 additional acres of northern forests

LOS ANGELES , August 9, 2011 () – The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board on Wednesday will consider the second part of a major land deal that would secure a conservation easement on Plum Creek Timber Co. land, the Journal Sentinel reported on Aug. 9.

Last fall, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) purchased an easement on more than 8,000 acres for US$3.7 million; the second phase, an easement of 10,083 acres at a cost of $4.5 million, is due to come before the board on Aug. 10.

The state and federal governments are sharing the total US$8.2 million cost, according to the Milwaukee-based Journal Sentinel. The state is paying $4.2 million through the Knowles- Nelson Stewardship Program, while the U.S. Forest Service is providing $4 million.

In total, the deal would ensure public access for hunting and other recreational uses in perpetuity on more than 18,000 acres of northern forests near the Chippewa Flowage. Plum Creek would continue to own the land and harvest timber, but would not be able to subdivide or sell it.

With forest fragmentation viewed as a major threat to logging and forest-based recreational activity, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has increasingly relied on transactions involving easements as they cost less while still keeping forests from being developed. According to the newspaper, a private appraisal had valued the land at US$21.9 million, if the state were to have bought it outright.

The primary source of this article is the Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Aug. 9, 2011

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