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Step 1: Getting Started

MFL and FCL Harvesting

Approximate time to complete step #1: Three to nine months.

The first step of the harvesting process typically begins with a Managed Forest Law (MFL) or Forest Crop Law (FCL) landowner being reminded that they need to harvest timber through a letter from the Wisconsin DNR. The letter is sent in January or February the year before a landowner’s scheduled timber harvest, and a second reminder letter is sent in January or February the year the harvest is due if no action has been taken by that point. A landowner does not have to wait until they receive that letter; they can contact the local DNR forester if any conditions change in their forest or if they want to get a jump start on the harvest. From there, the landowner is encouraged to find a forestry professional to assist them with the timber harvest, including verifying that the forest is ready to be harvested.

Finding assistance

Mandatory timber harvests must be completed in a manner consistent with MFL or FCL requirements and following sound forestry guidelines. Understanding and adhering to these requirements can be difficult without professional assistance, particularly if this is the first-time harvesting timber under MFL or FCL. The recommend options for finding assistance to ensure a successful timber harvest are described below.

Regardless of what type of professional the landowner has selected to work with, a contract or a letter of service agreement should be prepared. A written agreement will help avoid misunderstandings and make clear what is expected. Each agreement should fit the landowner's needs and be mutually acceptable.

Contract with a professional forester

Professional foresters may mark or designate trees for cutting, sell these trees to loggers on the landowner’s behalf and/or assist with other non-timber harvest mandatory practices that may need to be completed. You can find a list of foresters with the Forestry Assistance Locator. The forester’s listed in the Forestry Assistance Locator are “cooperating foresters”, which means they hold specific credentials and have signed an agreement with the DNR to ensure sound forestry on private lands. Not all private consulting foresters are cooperating foresters, and there may be additional private foresters to assist you.

Contract with a professional logger or contract crew

Professional loggers are available to cut trees and contract crews are available to plant trees or release young trees from competition. Wisconsin Master Loggers can be found at Please note that not all professional loggers are Master Loggers, and there may be other loggers or custom operators to help you complete the harvest.

Verifying forest conditions

After the landowner is reminded by the Wisconsin DNR of their timber harvesting practice and has found a forester and/or logger to assist them with the practice, the next step in the harvesting process is to verify that the forest is ready for harvest.

The forester who developed the plan estimated when timber harvesting would need to occur based on the forest conditions at that time. However, forest conditions can and do change over time, so when it comes time to complete the scheduled harvest, the forest conditions will need to be verified to determine if the forest is ready for harvesting. Current science and sound forestry must be applied to the current forest conditions in a way that also meets the landowner's management goals for their forest. Verifying forest conditions typically involves the forester or logger walking the property and landowners are encouraged to do this with the forester or logger they are working with.

If the walk-through confirms that the forest is ready for the scheduled harvest, the next step is to do a more detailed assessment of the harvest area, which is described in Step 2. If the outcome of the walk-through is that the forest is not ready for the scheduled harvest, the forester, logger and/or landowner must follow up with the local Tax Law Forestry Specialist.

Changes to the landowner's management plan must be reviewed and approved by the Tax Law Forestry Specialist. Keep in mind: Landowners can work with the local Tax Law Forestry Specialist if their management goals for their property have changed. The Tax Law Forestry Specialist will review their goals and determine how to amend the management plan in a way that is still consistent with the purpose of the MFL or FCL programs.

If the forest is not ready for the scheduled harvest and the management plan is amended accordingly through mutual agreement of the landowner and Tax Law Forestry Specialist then the process for harvesting timber on MFL and FCL lands stops here, at least for the most recently scheduled practice(s).

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