Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More questions raised about WI DNR's sale of public lands

[Updated] Remember when the Wisconsin Legislature told the Department of Natural Resources to designate 10,000 acres of public land to sell off - - ostensibly to raise some revenue - - and former developer & current agency Secretary Cathy Stepp's 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR eagerly swung into action?
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
Back then, reports indicated sales could pick off small, disconnected and otherwise underutilized parcels:
Most of the land in the first sale is isolated and not located in property boundaries where there is high public use...Other parcels are landlocked, with no current public access.
It turned out that some of the acreage was primo waterfront property and at least one big Walker campaign donor almost got a sweetheart deal before whistles were blown.

Little wonder that the DNR is easing regulation on or soft-pedaling reviews of donor-run industrial-scale feedlots and a controversial high-end golf course along Lake Michigan which could be allowed if the DNR says OK to take a piece of an adjoining state park.

Anyway, the sales are continuing and people's attention has shifted to other things, but someone with knowledge of central Wisconsin land use and values raised an interesting question by focusing on another prime DNR parcel listed for sale in Waupaca County, where land with good hunting is in short supply and can sell for $6,000 an acre, and even $6,800, for the best hunting acreage.

The source's question: why should high-income residents get to buy such nice acreage which now belongs to the people?

Here's a link to the current sales information and the specific parcel, FL1312, describing a nearly 39-acre site with trapping and hunting opportunities, four parking stalls, additional improvements and even a trout stream running through it.

At $6,000 an acre, the possible selling price is close to a quarter-million dollars - - and who knows, perhaps more - - if my source's knowledge of property values there is accurate.

And while I have no reason to doubt the acreage value, and if it were off by say, 10% or even 25% - - the parcel's sales price is going be beyond the reach of most Wisconsin residents whose per capita annual income is about $27,900, and about $28,600 in Waupaca County, census data show.

Sound fair to you?


My source further explains how removing hunting land from DNR/public access makes other problems worse:
The growth of the deer herd in that county is out of control. The lack of public hunting land is part of the problem. 
Private owners control so much land in Waupaca County that the DNR will never get the herd reduced as owners love high deer densities. 
So they just shoot big bucks and refuse to shoot does.  
Waupaca's deer herds of 80+ deer per square mile result in more car crashes and the risk of CWD spreading.  
The DNR's policy of reducing public hunting opportunities will just make the problem worse.
Sound smart to you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Smart? No. Surprising? Sadly, no.