It’s the start of a new year, and with that comes tax time. That property tax bill probably arrived in December, and as a woodland owner you are potentially facing a larger bill than is comfortable. Many states have realized the importance of family owned woodlands for clean air and water and good paying jobs, and offer landowners incentives to manage their woods. In Wisconsin, this comes in the form of a program that reduces your tax burden in exchange for actively managing your land. The program is called Managed Forest Law, or commonly called MFL for short.
A few years ago, I got into using natural dyes for some craft projects. I was experimenting with different plants and flowers, and read that walnut has a nice color. Since I have a nice supply of walnut trees in my yard, I grabbed a few nuts and went to work peeling them and using the husks on some scarves. At the time, my mother was wondering why we weren’t saving the nut meat too. Several weeks later, when my hands were STILL dyed brown from the husks, I was also curious why I didn’t stick to just the nuts.
I just got off the phone with Mike. Mike is a landowner in Marathon County who just purchased some property, and was floundering a bit with where to start. He has 80 acres of land that had been used for hay, has some wet areas, and he would like to see more wildlife on the property. With the exception of maybe 10 acres, there aren’t many trees on the property at the moment. He had heard about a tax program, and was curious about that too. With the classes that my colleagues and I teach, we often run into stories similar to this one.
I’m in the middle of doing Learn About Your Land classes on the eastern side of the state right now, and this week’s class is all about “What’s in Your Woods”. Good time to be thinking about this month’s blog post. Before I started the class last night, I asked folks what they had most recently been doing in their woods. The first three answers were hunting morels, pulling garlic mustard and cutting firewood. So I guess they should get credit for writing this post.
The spring melt is on, and every hike lately means wet feet. We live along the Wisconsin River, so I’ve been thinking about where all that spring runoff goes. In Wisconsin, we have what are called “Best Management Practices for Water Quality”. These are voluntary practices for forestry that help us protect our riparian areas, or the interface between our land and water. The intent of these recommendations is to prevent polluted runoff (soil, chemicals, and nutrients) from getting in to lakes and streams, and also to prevent temperatures from rising too much in the water.