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The state's industrial forests: Sold!

Wisconsin State Roundup

January 1, 2006

The state's industrial forests: Sold!

For a variety of economic reasons, Wisconsin's "corporate" forests have seen unprecedented turnover in ownership over the last decade or so, according to a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Some major landholders simply no longer need the land. Paper companies that used to depend on their private forests for material inputs have sold wide swaths of their holdings since the late 1990s due to a worldwide paper glut. Timber companies have also been major sellers, in part because high demand from builders and individuals has significantly increased forest prices.

Local nature-lovers and hunters are often adversely affected by this trend. So-called industrial, or corporate, forests make up about 7 percent of the state's 16 million forested acres (compared to 30 percent that is state owned), much of which has public access in exchange for property tax breaks of up to 90 percent. As parcels are sold off, concerns have also been raised about long-term access for a multitude of hiking, snowmobile and ATV trails that often snake through portions of corporate forests.

Ronald A. Wirtz