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Getting Started in Your Woods

Are you a new landowner, or new to forestry, and not sure where to start? We're here to help. Learn how to care for your woods, where to go for help from professional foresters, programs and incentives for landowners and other essential topics.

Your woods

Your private woodlands are a significant environmental, social and economic benefit to everyone in Wisconsin. Learn more about why your woods matter, how to set management goals and the benefit of developing a management plan.

Free property visits

A walk in the woods with your local DNR Service Forester is an educational opportunity to learn about the many benefits of caring for your woodlands. It's free, with no further obligation or strings attached. Your DNR Forester will walk your woods, listen to your values and answer your questions.

Following the visit, you'll receive a summary of your woods walk outlining actions to achieve your goals. You must own 5 or more wooded acres to qualify for a property visit.

To find your local DNR Forester and request a free woods walk, visit the Forestry Assistance Locator (FAL).

Planting trees in your woodland

Establishing and caring for your woods is just as important as setting goals. Check out our page on establishing your woods to learn the basics of tree care, make a personalized tree planting plan and find additional resources.

Harvesting your trees

Timber harvesting isn't always the first thing on your mind when thinking about your woods. However, responsible timber harvesting is an important tool for forest management. Learn more about the benefits of harvesting.

Storm damage

Severe weather has the potential to derail even the best-laid management plans. Learn what to do if you encounter storm damage in your woods.

Financial help

The Managed Forest Land (MFL) incentive program encourages sustainable forestry on private woodlands. If you decide to enroll, you will pay reduced property taxes in exchange for following sound forest management practices. Enrollment for the MFL program is currently open. For more details about individual programs and requirements, visit our forest tax help center.

There are also state and federal cost sharing programs available to help you manage your land. This includes the Wisconsin Forest Landowner Grant Program (WFLGP), designed to help reimburse qualified landowners for up to 50 percent of the eligible cost of eligible practices.

Professional help

Professional foresters can help you accomplish your management goals. Start on our professional forestry assistance overview page for information on the roles foresters play and how they can help you.

Before you select a private consulting or industrial forester, be sure to research their background. Our working with foresters page can help you find a forester who will represent your best interests.

When you're ready to contact a professional forester, give the Forestry Assistance Locator (FAL) a try. It lists DNR service foresters and Cooperating Foresters who are ready to assist you in every county of Wisconsin. The FAL is a great resource for creating a personal contact list for the next time you have a management request.

Other resources

There are several woodland owner organizations landowners like you can join to gain access to additional resources. These include the American Tree Farm System, Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association and more.

Many foresters belong to various professional forestry organizations. Learn about these organizations, their standards and what it means to seek guidance from one of their members.

The Wisconsin Private Forestry Advisory Committee (WPFAC) advises Wisconsin state foresters and the DNR on matters concerning the state's private forestry programs. For a list of all programs for which they advise, as well as meeting minutes and members, visit their page.