My Wisconsin Woods expands


Baraboo, Wis. — The My Wisconsin Woods Program originally started in southwest Wisconsin to show woodland owners the joy and benefits of managing their woods.

Jim and Katie Leonhard, of Cross Plains, are examples of the many landowners who benefited from the My Wisconsin Woods Program in the Driftless Region, and now that program has gone statewide.

“No single conservation organization can reach all of the landowners who want to get started, and this new statewide effort integrates many sources, including the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), that will make their county foresters across the state available to do a ‘walk in the woods’ with landowners to identify goals, threats and opportunities for management,” said Buddy Huffaker, Aldo Leopold Foundation executive director.

My Wisconsin Woods expanded statewide in May, and now more woodland owners who’ve never had the opportunity of talking to a professional forester can also benefit.

Diane Gunderson, DNR private forestry outreach specialist in Rhinelander, said a DNR forester is just a phone call or e-mail away.

“We’ve partnered with the Aldo Leopold Foundation for many years, and it has been a successful partnership and the goal is to have a place where landowners can go for resources for their land,” Gunderson said.

Landowners may go to the My Wisconsin Woods web site ( and click on a button to request a free property visit or “find your forester” and then select their county.

They can select a forester and send an e-mail and the forester will then call to schedule an appointment on the land.

“They are so knowledgeable at helping to identify trees, invasive species, forest health concerns, and even financial assistance that is available to landowners,” Gunderson said.

“It’s easy and there is no obligation to be involved,” Gunderson said.

If it is a public forester who meets with the landowner there is no cost to the landowner. The forester will provide a written recommendation afterwards that the landowner may take into consideration.

From there the forester can help to get the landowner connected with resources they need to accomplish their goals.

Gunderson said that the Wisconsin Private Forestry Advisory Council has set a goal of meeting with 20,000 landowners over the next five years.

Ron Weber, DNR forester at Ladysmith, is an example of a forester who has already had 40 people contact him to set up visits as a result of the expanded My Wisconsin Woods Program.

He said most are landowners who have never had any contact with a professional forester. He sets up an appointment to go out and walk the land with them.

“I try to learn what their goals and objectives are with the land, and then give them an idea of the tree species and forest cover type on the land,” Weber said.

He finds that most landowners want to have the land managed correctly and sustainably, which he finds reassuring.

“I don’t see a downside to the program. They’re getting a professional forester out there and we’re not trying to sell them anything,” Weber said.

Huffaker believes talking to an expert will help landowners get to know their property better and sometimes open new questions.

“It’s important for landowners to just start doing something. Every county in the state has at least one county forester available to come out and look at your property,” Huffaker said.

“Sometimes it is almost overwhelming, but talking to someone who can narrow the focus for you changes everything,” said, Jim Leonhard, of Cross Plains, a landowner who has taken advantage of knowledge provided by the program.

What landowners do today affects tomorrow and those who will benefit from and live on the land in the future.

Landowners have resources just a call or e-mail away to help manage land wisely for future generations.

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