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23.26(4) (4)Prepare and publish an official list of research natural and other natural areas in the state natural area system available for research and the teaching of conservation and natural history, and recommend publication of studies made in connection with these areas.
23.26(5) (5)Cooperate with federal agencies, other states, counties or organizations concerned with preservation of natural areas.
23.26(6) (6)Take such other action as is deemed advisable to facilitate the administration, development, maintenance or protection of natural areas and the state natural areas system.
23.26 History History: 1985 a. 29; Stats. 1985 s. 23.26.
23.27 23.27 Natural areas; definitions; importance; inventory; acquisition; sales.
23.27(1)(1)Definitions. As used in this section and ss. 23.28 and 23.29:
23.27(1)(a) (a) “Council" means the natural areas preservation council.
23.27(1)(b) (b) “Dedicated state natural areas" means land accepted and recorded for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program as provided under s. 23.29 (16).
23.27(1)(c) (c) “Dedication" means the transfer of land or a permanent interest in land to the state of Wisconsin to be held in trust for the people of Wisconsin by the department in a manner which ensures the protection and stewardship of the area and natural values associated with the area. “Dedication" also means the binding unilateral declaration by the state that land under the ownership of the state is to be held in trust for the people of Wisconsin by the department in a manner which ensures the protection and stewardship of the area and natural values associated with the area.
23.27(1)(d) (d) “Designated state natural area" means a natural area designated as a state natural area under s. 23.28 (1).
23.27(1)(e) (e) “Natural area" means an area of land or water which has educational or scientific value or is important as a reservoir of the state's genetic or biologic diversity and includes any buffer area necessary to protect the area's natural values. Frequently, “natural areas" are important as a reserve for native biotic communities. Frequently, “natural areas" provide habitat for endangered, threatened or critical species or for species of special concern to scientists. In some cases, “natural areas" include areas with highly significant geological or archaeological features. Generally, “natural areas" are areas which largely escaped unnatural environmental disturbance or which exhibit little evidence of recent environmental disturbance so that recovery of natural conditions has occurred.
23.27(1)(f) (f) “Natural values" includes any important values and characteristics listed under sub. (2) (a) to (i) which enable an area to be considered a natural area.
23.27(1)(g) (g) “Research natural area" means all or part of a state natural area identified by the department, with the advice of the council, as a natural area especially suitable or important for scientific research.
23.27(1)(h) (h) “State natural area", unless otherwise limited, means any designated state natural area or dedicated state natural area.
23.27(1)(i) (i) “Stewardship" means the continuing obligation to provide the necessary maintenance, management, protection, husbandry and support for a natural area and natural values associated with that area.
23.27(2) (2)Importance. The department, with the advice of the council, shall maintain a system to evaluate the importance of natural areas. The system shall include standards for determining low, high and critical levels of importance for natural areas. This system shall consider the following natural values:
23.27(2)(a) (a) The value of the area as a preserve or reservoir which exhibits an outstanding or high quality example of a native plant or animal community.
23.27(2)(b) (b) The value of the area as a preserve or reservoir for any endangered, threatened or critical species or for a species of special concern to scientists.
23.27(2)(c) (c) The value of the area as a preserve or reservoir of genetic or biological diversity.
23.27(2)(d) (d) The degree to which the area was subject to unnatural environmental disturbance and the degree of recovery.
23.27(2)(e) (e) The value of the area for educational or scientific research purposes and as a reference site for comparison with areas subjected to environmental disturbance.
23.27(2)(f) (f) The value of the area for educational or scientific research purposes because of important or unusual characteristics.
23.27(2)(g) (g) The significance or uniqueness of the area in the locality, region and state.
23.27(2)(h) (h) The existence of highly significant geological or archaeological features.
23.27(2)(i) (i) The value of the area for public educational purposes, including the value of the area in promoting public awareness, appreciation, understanding and respect for the state's natural heritage.
23.27(3) (3)Natural heritage inventory program.
23.27(3)(a)(a) Duties. The department shall conduct a natural heritage inventory program. The department shall cooperate with the department of administration under s. 16.967 in conducting this program. This program shall establish a system for determining the existence and location of natural areas, the degree of endangerment of natural areas, an evaluation of the importance of natural areas, information related to the associated natural values of natural areas, and other information and data related to natural areas. This program shall establish a system for determining the existence and location of native plant and animal communities and endangered, threatened, and critical species, the degree of endangerment of these communities and species, the existence and location of habitat areas associated with these communities and species, and other information and data related to these communities and species. This program shall establish and coordinate standards for the collection, storage, and management of information and data related to the natural heritage inventory.
23.27(3)(b) (b) Access to information; fees. The department shall make information and data from the natural heritage inventory program available to any individual or public or private agency for research, educational, environmental, land management or similar authorized purposes. The department may establish a fee to be collected to recover the actual cost of collecting, storing, managing, compiling and providing this information and data. The department may reduce or waive the fee established under this paragraph if the department determines that a waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest. The natural heritage inventory and related information and data are not subject to s. 19.35 and the department may refuse to release information or data for any purpose which is not authorized.
23.27(4) (4)Natural areas land acquisition; continuing commitment. It is the intent of the legislature to continue natural areas land acquisition activities from moneys available from the appropriations under ss. 20.370 (7) (fa) and 20.866 (2) (ta), (ts) and (tz). This commitment is separate from and in addition to the commitment to acquire natural areas under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program. Except as provided in s. 23.0915 (2), the department may not expend from the appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (tz) more than $1,500,000 in each fiscal year for natural areas land acquisition activities under this subsection and for grants for this purpose under s. 23.096.
23.27(5) (5)Natural areas land acquisition; commitment under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program. It is the intent of the legislature to initiate additional natural areas land acquisition activities with moneys available from the appropriations under ss. 20.370 (1) (fu) and 20.866 (2) (ta), (tt), and (tz) under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program. This commitment is separate from and in addition to the continuing commitment under sub. (4). Moneys available from the appropriations under ss. 20.370 (1) (fu) and 20.866 (2) (ta), (tt), and (tz) under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program may not be used to acquire land through condemnation. The department may not acquire land under this subsection unless the land is suitable for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program and upon purchase or as soon after purchase as practicable the department shall take all necessary action to dedicate the land under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program. Except as provided in s. 23.0915 (2), the department may not expend from the appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (tz) more than $500,000 in each fiscal year for natural areas land acquisition activities under this subsection and for grants for this purpose under s. 23.096.
23.27(6) (6)Sale; credit. Moneys received by the state from the sale of any area on state-owned land under the department's management or control which is withdrawn from the state natural areas system shall be credited to the appropriation under s. 20.370 (1) (fu). An amount equal to the value of any area on state-owned land under the department's management or control which is withdrawn from the state natural areas system but remains in state ownership shall be credited to the appropriation under s. 20.370 (1) (fu).
23.27(7) (7)Sale of resources. Moneys received from the sale or lease of resources derived from the land in the state natural areas system shall be credited to the appropriation under s. 20.370 (1) (fs).
23.27 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also s. NR 103.04, Wis. adm. code.
23.28 23.28 State natural areas; designated state natural areas.
23.28(1)(1)Designation. The department, with the advice of the council, may designate any natural area with a high or critical level of importance on state-owned land under the department's management or control as a state natural area. The department, with the advice of the council, may designate any natural area with a high or critical level of importance on land other than state-owned land but under the department's management or control as a state natural area. The department, with the advice of the council, may designate a natural area with a high or critical level of importance on land under the management or control of another state agency, a federal, county, city, village, town or other public agency or a nonprofit organization as a state natural area if that area is protected by a voluntary, written stewardship agreement between the owner or manager and the department.
23.28(2) (2)Stewardship. The department is responsible for the stewardship of designated state natural areas unless a written stewardship agreement specifies otherwise.
23.28(3) (3)Protection of natural values; research natural areas. The department shall not permit any use of a designated state natural area which is inconsistent with or injurious to its natural values. The department may establish use zones, may control uses within a zone and may limit the number of persons using a zone in a designated state natural area. The department, with the advice of the council, may classify certain designated state natural areas as research natural areas and may establish special use regulations for these areas.
23.28 History History: 1985 a. 29; 1987 a. 399.
23.28 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. NR 29 and ss. NR 1.60, 1.61, and 103.04, Wis. adm. code.
23.29 23.29 Wisconsin natural areas heritage program.
23.29(1)(1)Intent. It is the intent of the legislature to encourage private contributions and land dedications under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program. It is the intent of the legislature to match private contributions and the value of land dedications with state funds in addition to funds normally appropriated for natural areas land acquisition activities.
23.29(2) (2)Contributions; state match. The department may accept contributions and gifts for the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program. The department shall convert donations of land which it determines, with the advice of the council, are not appropriate for the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program into cash. The department shall convert other noncash contributions into cash. These moneys shall be deposited in the conservation fund and credited to the appropriation under s. 20.370 (1) (fu). These moneys shall be matched by an equal amount released from the appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (ta), (tt), or (tz) or from any combination of these appropriations to be used for natural areas land acquisition activities under s. 23.27 (5). The department shall determine how the moneys being released are to be allocated from these appropriations.
23.29(3) (3)Land dedications; valuation; state match. The department shall determine the value of land accepted for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program. If the land dedication involves the transfer of the title in fee simple absolute or other arrangement for the transfer of all interest in the land to the state, the valuation shall be based on the fair market value of the land prior to the transfer. If the land dedication involves the transfer of a partial interest in land to the state, the valuation shall be based on the extent to which the fair market value of the land is diminished by that transfer and the associated articles of dedication. If the land dedication involves a sale of land to the department at less than the fair market value, the valuation of the dedication shall be based on the difference between the purchase price and the fair market value. An amount equal to the value of land accepted for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program shall be released from the appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (ta), (tt) or (tz) or from any combination of these appropriations to be used for natural areas land acquisition activities under s. 23.27 (5). This subsection does not apply to dedications of land under the ownership of the state. The department shall determine how the moneys being released are to be allocated from these appropriations.
23.29(4) (4)Land dedications; eligible land. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless the land is a natural area with a high or critical level of importance as determined by the department with the advice of the council.
23.29(5) (5)Land dedications; transfer of interest. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless all interest in the land or a partial interest in the land is transferred to the state to be held in trust for the people by the department. This subsection does not apply to land under the ownership of the state.
23.29(6) (6)Land dedications; state land. Land under the ownership of the state and under the control or management of the department may be accepted for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program. Land under the ownership of the state but under the management or control of another agency may be accepted for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program if the appropriate agency transfers sufficient permanent and irrevocable authority over the management and control of that land to the department.
23.29(7) (7)Land dedications; permanent and irrevocable. Except as permitted under this subsection, the department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless the land dedication is permanent and irrevocable. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program if the dedication or any provision in the articles of dedication include any reversionary right or any provision which extinguishes the dedication at a certain time or upon the development of certain conditions, except that the department may authorize a revision or extinction if the land is withdrawn from the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program as provided under subs. (19) and (20). The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program if the articles of dedication allow for amendment or revision except as provided under subs. (17) and (18).
23.29(8) (8)Land dedications; public trust. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless the land dedication provides that the interest in land which is transferred to or held by the state is to be held in trust for the people by the department.
23.29(9) (9)Land dedications; stewardship. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless adequate provisions for the stewardship are provided. If the land dedication involves the transfer of title in fee simple absolute or other arrangement for the transfer of all interest in the land to the state, the department has stewardship responsibility. If the land dedication involves the transfer of a partial interest in the land to the state, stewardship responsibility shall be assigned to the person retaining an interest in the land and his or her successors or to the department. Even if stewardship responsibility is assigned to a person retaining an interest in the land and his or her successors, the department has ultimate responsibility to ensure that stewardship is provided and, if it is not, the department shall assume stewardship responsibility and shall recover the costs involved from the party originally responsible. If the land dedication involves state-owned land under the management or control of the department, the department has stewardship responsibility. The department may enter into contracts or agreements with other agencies or persons to act as its agent and to ensure that stewardship is provided for a dedicated state natural area or to assume stewardship responsibility for a dedicated state natural area. In no case may the department abrogate its ultimate stewardship responsibility or its obligation as a trustee of the land.
23.29(10) (10)Protection of natural values; research natural areas. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless adequate authorization is given to the department to protect natural values and to restrict any use of the natural area which is inconsistent with or injurious to its natural values. If authorized by the articles of dedication, the department may establish use zones, may control uses within a zone and may limit the number of persons using a zone in a dedicated state natural area. If authorized in the articles of dedication, the department, with the advice of the council, may classify certain dedicated state natural areas as research natural areas and may establish special use regulations for these areas.
23.29(11) (11)Land dedications; partial interest; land of other state agencies; access. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program if the land dedication involves the transfer of a partial interest in the land to the state unless adequate provisions for access are provided. Land under the ownership of the state but under the management and control of another state agency may not be accepted for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless adequate provisions for access are provided. Adequate provisions for access are required to include provisions which guarantee access to the land by the department and its agents at reasonable times to inspect the land and to determine if the articles of dedication are being violated. Adequate provisions for access are required to include provisions which guarantee to the department and its agents access and rights to the land necessary to exercise stewardship responsibilities. Adequate provisions for access may not be required to include any provision permitting public access to the land although the department shall encourage public access provisions wherever possible and consistent with preservation of natural values associated with the land. If public access is permitted, the department shall consider this as a factor when making its valuation under sub. (3). Even if public access is permitted, the department may limit access at its discretion to protect natural values associated with the land or to facilitate stewardship or administration.
23.29(12) (12)Land dedication; partial interest; land of other state agencies; notice prior to sale or transfer. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program if the land dedication involves the transfer of a partial interest in the land to the state unless adequate provisions for notice are provided. Land under the ownership of the state but under the management and control of another state agency may not be accepted for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless adequate provisions for notice are provided. At a minimum, adequate provisions for notice shall require 30 days' notice to the department before any sale, transfer or conveyance of the land or an interest in the land. The department may not regulate or prohibit the sale, transfer or conveyance of a dedicated state natural area or an interest in a dedicated state natural area but the department may ensure that the grantee, lessee or other party is informed of the dedication and understands that restrictions, conditions, obligations, covenants and other provisions in the dedication and articles of dedication run with the land and are binding on subsequent grantees, lessees and similar parties. No sale, transfer or conveyance of a dedicated state natural area may violate the dedication or the articles of dedication. The register of deeds shall notify the department if a dedicated state natural area is transferred by will or as part of an estate.
23.29(13) (13)Articles of dedication; requirement; approval. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless articles of dedication in the proper form and with the required contents are prepared and approved. The department and the person making the land dedication are required to approve articles of dedication if the land dedication involves the transfer of all or a partial interest in the land. The department and the appropriate state agency are required to approve articles of dedication if the land dedication involves land under the ownership of the state but under the control or management of a state agency other than the department. The department is required to approve articles of dedication if the land dedication involves only land under the ownership and control of the state and under the management or control of the department. The department shall seek the advice of the council in making approvals under this subsection.
23.29(14) (14)Articles of dedication; form. Articles of dedication are not in proper form unless they are prepared as a conservation easement under s. 700.40 or in another form acceptable to the department. Articles of dedication are not in proper form unless they run with the land and are binding on all subsequent purchasers or any other successor to an interest in the land. Articles of dedication are not in proper form unless the articles qualify as an instrument which is valid and meets the requirements for recording under s. 706.04.
23.29(15) (15)Articles of dedication; contents. The department may not approve articles of dedication unless they contain:
23.29(15)(a) (a) Public purpose. A statement of public purposes served by the dedication.
23.29(15)(b) (b) Identification of natural values. An identification of natural values associated with the land.
23.29(15)(c) (c) Conveyance. A conveyance or other instrument if necessary to transfer interest in the land as required under sub. (5).
23.29(15)(d) (d) Permanent protection. Restrictions, conditions, covenants and other provisions governing the use of the land so that natural values associated with the land are ensured of permanent protection.
23.29(15)(e) (e) Stewardship. Restrictions, conditions, obligations, covenants or other provisions governing the obligation to provide stewardship as required under sub. (9).
23.29(15)(f) (f) Authorization. Authorization to the department to ensure protection of natural values as required under sub. (10).
23.29(15)(g) (g) Access. Adequate provisions for access if required under sub. (11).
23.29(15)(h) (h) Notification of sales and transfers. Adequate provisions for notice if required under sub. (12).
23.29(15)(i) (i) Amendment. A provision specifying that no amendment or revision to the articles of dedication may occur except as provided under subs. (17) and (18).
23.29(15)(j) (j) Withdrawal. A provision specifying that no withdrawal of the land from the dedicated state natural areas system may occur except as provided under subs. (19) and (20).
23.29(16) (16)Acceptance; recording. The department may not accept land for dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program unless the governor approves the dedication in writing. If the department and the governor approve, a land dedication under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program is final with the recording of the dedication and articles of dedication in the office of the register of deeds. At the time of recording, the land is a dedicated state natural area and shall remain so unless withdrawn under subs. (19) and (20).
23.29(17) (17)Articles of dedication; amendment; justification. The articles of dedication may not be amended or revised unless the amendment or revision serves a valid public purpose, no prudent alternative exists and the amendment or revision would not significantly injure or damage the natural values which enabled the area to be considered a state natural area.
23.29(18) (18)Articles of dedication; amendment; procedure. The articles of dedication may not be amended or revised until and unless:
23.29(18)(a) (a) Agreement. The department and any other party with a property interest in the dedicated state natural area agree to the proposed amendment or revision.
23.29(18)(b) (b) Findings. The department issues written findings justifying the proposed amendment or revision under sub. (17).
23.29(18)(c) (c) Notice and hearing. A public hearing is conducted in the county where the dedicated state natural area is located following publication of a class 1 notice, under ch. 985, which announces the hearing and summarizes the department's findings.
23.29(18)(d) (d) Standing committee approval. The appropriate standing committee in each house of the legislature, as determined by each presiding officer, approves the proposed amendment or revision.
23.29(18)(e) (e) Approval by governor. The governor approves the proposed amendment or revision.
23.29(18)(f) (f) Recording. The amendment or revision is recorded in the office of the register of deeds.
23.29(19) (19)Withdrawal; justification. The department may not withdraw a dedicated state natural area from the dedicated state natural areas system unless:
23.29(19)(a) (a) Extinction of natural values. The natural values which enabled the area to be considered a dedicated state natural area no longer exist or were destroyed or damaged to such an extent that the area has no importance or has a low level of importance as determined by the department with the advice of the council.
23.29(19)(b) (b) Superseding public purpose. The withdrawal serves a superseding and imperative public purpose and no prudent alternative exists.
23.29(20) (20)Withdrawal; procedure. The department may not withdraw a dedicated state natural area from the state natural areas system until and unless:
23.29(20)(a) (a) Findings. The department issues written findings justifying the proposed withdrawal under sub. (19) (a) or (b).
23.29(20)(b) (b) Notice and hearing. A public hearing is conducted in the county where the dedicated state natural area is located following publication of a class 1 notice, under ch. 985, which announces the hearing and summarizes the department's findings.
23.29(20)(c) (c) Standing committee approval. The appropriate standing committee in each house of the legislature, as determined by each presiding officer, approves the proposed withdrawal.
23.29(20)(d) (d) Approval by governor. The governor approves the proposed withdrawal.
23.29(20)(e) (e) Recording. The withdrawal is recorded with the register of deeds.
23.29(21) (21)Restrictions. A dedicated state natural area is not subject to condemnation for use for any purpose unless the area is withdrawn from the state natural areas system under subs. (19) and (20). The department may not impose restrictions on a person who retains a property interest in a dedicated state natural area unless the department has authority under the dedication or articles of dedication or unless the person who retains the property interest agrees.
23.29(22) (22)Department authority. The department shall administer this section and shall encourage and facilitate the voluntary dedication of lands under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program. The department may promulgate rules and establish procedures to aid in the administration and enforcement of this section. The department may provide legal advice and may prepare model articles of dedication to facilitate the dedication of lands under the Wisconsin natural areas heritage program.
23.29(23) (23)Enforcement. The department and its agents, the department of justice, and peace officers, as defined under s. 939.22 (22), but not including commission wardens, as defined under s. 939.22 (5), have jurisdiction on dedicated state natural areas in the geographic jurisdiction to enforce articles of dedication and restrictions authorized under sub. (21).
23.29(24) (24)Injunctive relief; recovery of costs; punitive damages. The department, or the department of justice on its own initiative or at the request of the department, may initiate an action seeking injunctive relief against any person violating the articles of dedication of a dedicated state natural area or restrictions authorized under sub. (21). Any citizen may initiate an action seeking injunctive relief against any person violating the articles of dedication of a dedicated state natural area as a beneficiary of the interest in that land held in the public trust. The department, or the department of justice at the department's request, may initiate an action to recover costs for stewardship expenses from the party originally responsible under sub. (9). The department, or the department of justice at the department's request, may initiate an action for punitive damages against any person violating the articles of dedication of a dedicated state natural area. Punitive damages are in addition to any penalty imposed under sub. (25).
23.29(25) (25)Penalty. Any person who violates this section, a rule promulgated under this section, the articles of dedication of a dedicated state natural area or any restrictions authorized under sub. (21) shall forfeit not more than $10,000. Each violation and each day of violation constitutes a separate offense.
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2017-18 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2019 Wis. Act 18 and through all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders filed before and in effect on October 1, 2019. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after October 1, 2019, are designated by NOTES. (Published 10-1-19)