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Climate Change in County Forest Plans in Wisconsin

Climate change is projected to shift ecosystems in northern Wisconsin bringing profound change to forests including altered forest structure and habitat loss for vulnerable species. These changes will pose management challenges that could be addressed in forest plans. Wisconsin counties manage the largest public forest acreage and thus, county forest plans are a good tool to gauge climate change preparedness. We examined current county forest plans for inclusion of climate change adaptation, but most 2005-6 plans do not address it. We surveyed county foresters to investigate if climate change adaptation will be incorporated into plans and if so, to what extent. 

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Local Policy and Landowner Attitudes:

A Case Study of Forest Fragmentation

Wisconsin is known for its extensive forest resources and its attraction to visitors and permanent and seasonal homeowners. Development, due to this attraction, within the state’s private forestland has been a growing phenomenon for many years and communities are struggling to implement tools to reduce its negative impact. One group of tools is local land use policies, but many communities are not equipped to regulate more than the basics, such as minimum lot size, and it is not clear that moving beyond the basics would conserve future forest resources or whether or not private landowners would find more restrictive land use policies acceptable. In this paper, we conduct a case study of northern Wisconsin by analyzing two dimensions: the possible effect of local land use policy on forest fragmentation and landowner attitudes to policy. The purpose is to uncover whether conventional or density-based zoning conserves more forestland and which policies local landowners would support. We find that, one, density-based zoning can conserve more total and core forest than conventional zoning. Two, when landowners view a particular scenario as a severe threat, they are more inclined to support some forms of land use regulation over others. These findings indicate that local governments can open up a dialogue for more restrictive local land use policies for conserving forest and limiting forest fragmentation, if landowners understand the impact among various alternatives.

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Landowner and Visitor Response to Forest Landscape Restoration: 

​The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Lakewood Southeast Project

This report is intended to support the ongoing pine barrens restoration work in the Lakewood-Laona Ranger District on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF). The report provides the results from 2016 surveys and focus groups examining landowner and visitor attitudes toward forest management treatments, communication, and restoration project outcomes; their forest values; their levels of trust in the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) and local agency personnel; and potential impacts of restoration on the recreational, aesthetic, and social dynamics of nearby communities.

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