(WKOW) — Wisconsin County Forests make up an astounding 2.4 million acres of land across the state. Of the 72 counties, 29 have county forests, which provide year-round access to its citizens. The system was set up under Wisconsin’s County Forest Law in 1927 to assure long-term management practices.
“It used to be just every County Forest was on its own,” said Norm Bickford who’s on the board of directors for Wisconsin County Forests Association.
“They decided they wanted to band together and have one voice. So the County Forests Association was evolved from that,” he said.
The Wisconsin County Forest Program (WCFA) is the largest public landowner in the State. WCFA works with many user groups to ensure forest sustainability and recreational use.
When you go snowmobiling chances are you’re riding on county forestland. Several thousand miles of trails bridge the 29 counties.
There are hundreds of miles of cross country ski trails throughout county forests, like Wausau’s Nine Mile Forest, ranging from easy to challenging. The American Birkebeiner, held in February, is North America’s largest cross-country ski race. It spans 30 miles, mostly in Bayfield and Sawyer County Forests.
“The County Forests Program is managed by a local forestry committee, and that’s the strength of the County Forest Program is local management,” Michael Luedecke, president of WCFA said.
“It is managed to provide long term forest resources, recreational resources and is also managed to provide ecological and habitat benefits to all the citizens of the state of Wisconsin.”