The lands we currently hold in trust are a patchwork of acres remaining from over a dozen grants from the federal government for a wide variety of public purposes, including “School Section” and university lands, swamp reclamation lands, canal lands, military wagon road lands, and many others.
Most of the original granted lands were sold over 100 years ago. Consolidating our holdings while protecting unique natural areas is a critical component in our land management strategy.
With the passage of “land bank authority” in 2006, we gained authority to “bank” the proceeds of land sales for future acquisitions. Previously, when we sold land, the proceeds were deposited into the Trust Funds; we could only acquire new land—to provide road access for managing our other land holdings, for example—if a property owner were willing to trade. Land bank authority provides much greater flexibility to:
Land bank sales and purchases
The BCPL has begun the process of offering for sale its isolated, unproductive tracts to private parties by sealed bid. An independent appraisal of those lands is conducted prior to offering the parcels for sale.
Criteria for evaluating potential land acquisitions include: the potential for good timber production, ownership of the parcel provides improved public access, and whether the parcel blocks well with existing Trust Lands, thus improving timber management efficiency.
All school trust lands are open to the public for hunting, fishing, trapping and other forms of public recreation. Some school trust lands, however, are surrounded by private property and we urge visitors to respect private property rights by requesting permission to cross private lands to access them. For information on how to access school trust lands, contact our Forest Supervisor.
To view a map of school trust land total acreage by county, click here.
Contributing to northern communities
A number of northern Wisconsin communities benefit from these land bank transactions. The BCPL is keeping working forests working by acquiring productive timberland. Through sustainable timber harvests on these lands, we keep local logging industries working. We also make payments in lieu of taxes (“PILT”) at the previous owner’s property tax rate on the lands we acquire under land bank authority. These payments help to pay for local government services.