State Land Under Review for Possible Sale

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released a list of 33 parcels of land that are currently under review for possible sale in response to a new state law that requires the Natural Resources Board to make 10,000 acres of land available for sale by June 30, 2017. The land under review is located in 23 counties and totals approximately 2,552 acres. None of the parcels are in Door County.

DNR staff compiled this list of land parcels using Geographic Information Systems tools to locate lands outside of DNR project boundaries as well as reviewing property master plans and past actions of the Natural Resources Board. The general criteria used to determine whether a parcel should be considered for sale under this new law include parcels of land:

• outside of a project boundary with difficult or no access for the DNR management purposes;

• outside of a project boundary with limited or no public access;

• outside of a project boundary that have limited public recreational or natural resources value as determined by field review criteria established elsewhere in this sub-chapter;

• that have been identified for sale as a result of a Natural Resources Board action; and

• recommended for sale as a result of a master planning process or other department action.

The department developed a land sale policy that reflects the requirements found in Wisconsin state statute. That policy was shaped by public comments received at five informational meetings held throughout the state in October 2013 and by comments received through the public policy page of the DNR website. The Natural Resources Board approved the final land sale policy in December 2013.

“This is the next step in a process that began shortly after the new law went in to effect on July 1,” according to Doug Haag, Deputy Bureau Director for the Bureau of Facilities and Lands. “Now we are conducting field reviews of the parcels. During the field review process, staff will assess the recreational and biological values of the property. They will also consider whether there is legal access to the land, or whether the land was designated for sale through some past action of the Natural Resources Board.”

“We intend to break this up into manageable phases,” said Kurt Thiede, Land Division administrator. “The timeline going forward includes completing the field reviews sometime around March 1, seeking government and tribal review during the month of March and into early April and then preparing the final package for review by the Natural Resource Board at its May meeting in Green Bay. Parcels approved for sale by the Natural Resources Board in May will be marketed for sale in June, July and August 2014.”

The Department of Natural Resources owns land and land rights encompassing more than 1.7 million acres statewide, so the requirement to sell 10,000 acres affects less than one percent of the agency’s land holdings. DNR expects the second phase of the land sale process to begin later this year and carry over into 2015.

“We have four years to meet our statutory requirement,” said Thiede. “We want to complete this work in an open and transparent manner and in a time frame that is manageable for staff and the Natural Resources Board. The sale of these public lands will allow us to re-purpose surplus lands and divest in lands that don’t serve an important role for DNR land management objectives, or public access.”

Ultimately, the Natural Resources Board has final say on which lands will be offered for sale and will make that determination based on recommendations from the department later this year.

To view the list of lands currently being reviewed by field staff for possible sale, search the DNR website, for keywords “land sales” and click on the button for “parcels for review and sale.”

More information about the actual marketing of the land and the bidding process will be available on the DNR website later this spring.