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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. 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

The landowner should get in touch with the local DNR forester who can provide the landowner more information about the timber harvesting practice and how to get assistance with completing the harvest.

After the landowner is reminded by the Wisconsin DNR of their timber harvesting practice, they should get in touch with their DNR forester. Their DNR forester can:

  • educate and guide the landowner through the harvesting process;
  • provide the landowner with important information about the requirements of the Managed Forest Law (MFL) and Forest Crop Law (FCL) programs;
  • provide the landowner with specific information about their upcoming timber harvesting practice; and
  • inform the landowner about how to find assistance.

Typically, the forester, logger or other agent who is assisting the landowner with the timber harvesting practice will help the landowner with filling out the content of the Cutting Notice and Report. Keep in mind that the DNR forester does not have the authority to set up or complete the timber harvest for the landowner. It is important that the landowner, DNR forester, landowner’s forester and/or logger work together cooperatively to ensure the timber harvest is completed successfully.

Since many landowners have never been involved in a timber harvest before, it is important that landowners find a forestry professional to assist them in ensuring the timber harvest is completed in a successful manner. Below are the recommended options for how to get started.

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 these foresters through the DNR forester, the Forestry Assistance Locator and/or the Directory of Foresters [PDF]. In addition to a listing of all of the Wisconsin consulting cooperating foresters, the Directory of Foresters provides valuable information about the difference between the DNR, consulting and industrial foresters, what a master logger is and considerations when selecting who to hire to assist with completing a timber harvesting practice.

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. Lists of professional loggers and contract crews are available from the DNR forester.

Once the landowner has selected someone 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.

Verifying forest conditions

The forester who developed the landowner’s management plan estimated when timber harvesting would need to occur based on the forest conditions at the time the plan was written. However, forest conditions can and do change over time.

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. 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 DNR forester.

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

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