Ch. 23 Cross-reference
See definitions in s. 24.01
The purpose of this section is to provide an adequate and flexible system for the protection, development and use of forests, fish and game, lakes, streams, plant life, flowers and other outdoor resources in this state.
(2) Departmental rules; studies; surveys; services; powers; long-range planning.
The department may promulgate such rules, inaugurate such studies, investigations and surveys, and establish such services as it deems necessary to carry out the provisions and purposes of this section. The department shall establish long-range plans, projects and priorities for conservation. The department may:
Designate such localities as it shall find to be reasonably necessary to secure perpetuation of any species of game or bird, and the maintenance of an adequate supply thereof, as game or bird refuges for the purpose of providing safe retreats in which game or birds may rest and replenish adjacent hunting grounds.
Designate such localities as it shall find to be reasonably necessary to secure the perpetuation of any species of fish and the maintenance of an adequate supply thereof, as fish refuges, for the purpose of providing safe retreats in which fish may breed and replenish adjacent fishing waters.
See also ch. NR 26
, Wis. adm. code.
Acquire by purchase, lease or agreement, and receive by gifts or devise, lands or waters suitable for the purposes enumerated in this paragraph, and maintain such lands and waters for such purposes; and, except for the purpose specified under subd. 12.
, may condemn lands or waters suitable for such purposes after obtaining approval of the appropriate standing committees of each house of the legislature as determined by the presiding officer thereof:
For state parks for the purpose of preserving scenic or historical values or natural wonders.
For public shooting, trapping or fishing grounds or waters for the purpose of providing areas in which any citizen may hunt, trap or fish.
For preservation of any endangered species or threatened species under s. 29.604
For state natural areas as authorized under s. 23.27 (4)
and for state natural areas as authorized under s. 23.27 (5)
except that land may not be acquired through condemnation under the authority of s. 23.27 (5)
For any other purpose for which gift lands are suitable, as determined by the department.
Extend and consolidate lands or waters suitable for the above purposes by exchange of other lands or waters under its supervision.
Propagation of fish.
Subject to s. 95.60
, capture, propagate, transport, sell or exchange any species of fish needed for stocking or restocking any waters of the state.
Establish and maintain an efficient fire fighting system for the protection of forests.
Enter into cooperative agreements with persons or governmental agencies for purposes consistent with the purposes and provisions of this section, including agreements with the highway authorities with regard to planting trees or other vegetation in or along highways, or furnishing stock for such planting.
Regulate camp fires and smoking in the woods at such times and in such designated localities, as it may find reasonably necessary to reduce the danger of destructive forest fires.
Regulate the burning of rubbish, slashings and marshes or other areas as it may find reasonably necessary to reduce the danger of destructive fires.
Conduct research to improve management of natural resources, disseminate information to the residents of Wisconsin on natural resources matters and receive funds from any public or private source for research projects.
Develop an information system to acquire, integrate and disseminate information concerning inventories and data on aquatic and terrestrial natural resources.
Develop a program for classifying streams by use and to make recommendations to municipalities and other state agencies for protection and development of recreational waters.
Donation of facilities, accept.
Accept donations of buildings, facilities and structures constructed upon lands owned by this state and under the jurisdiction of the department. The donor of such buildings, facilities and structures may contract for this construction according to plans and specifications provided by the department or may enter into a contract for professional architectural and engineering services to develop plans and specifications of such buildings, facilities and structures and contract for the construction of same. Upon the completion of construction satisfactory to the department, title of such buildings, facilities and structures shall vest in the state of Wisconsin. No person shall construct any building, facility or structure under this paragraph without the prior approval of the department regarding plans and specifications, materials, suitability, design, capacity or location. The plans and specifications for any building, structure or facility donated under this paragraph shall also be subject to the approval of the building commission.
Gifts and grants.
Accept and administer any gifts, grants, bequests and devises, including funds made available to the department by the federal government under any act of congress relating to any of the functions of the department. All funds included in such gifts, grants, bequests and devises received or expected to be received by the department in a biennium shall be included in the statement of its actual and estimated receipts and disbursements for such biennium required to be contained in the biennial state budget report under s. 16.46
, and shall be deemed to be and treated the same as other actual and estimated receipts and disbursements of the department. The department may acknowledge the receipt of any funding from a particular person or group in any department pamphlet, bulletin or other publication.
See also ch. NR 15
and s. NR 1.98
, Wis. adm. code.
Require any person to provide the department with disease sample tissue or disease sample data derived from a wild animal, as defined in s. 29.001 (90)
, if the department decides that the tissue or data is needed to determine the existence or extent of a disease in wild animals in this state.
(2dm) Land acquisition; priorities.
In expending moneys from the appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (tz)
to acquire lands under sub. (2) (d)
, the department shall establish a higher priority for the acquisition of lands within the boundaries of projects established on or before January 1, 1988.
(2m) Forest land plans and management. 23.09(2m)(a)(a)
If the department develops, reviews, or implements a master plan or a management plan for any forest land under the jurisdiction of the department, the department shall consult with the chief state forester.
The department shall manage forest land under its jurisdiction in a manner that is consistent with, and that furthers the purpose of, the designation of that forest land as a state forest, southern state forest, state park, state trail, state natural area, state recreation area, or similar designation.
The department shall determine the value of land donated to the department that is within the project boundaries of a state park, a state forest or a state recreation area. If the donation 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 before the transfer. If the donation is a dedication transferring 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 donation involves a sale of land to the department at less than the fair market value, the valuation of the donation shall be based on the difference between the purchase price and the fair market value.
Except as provided in par. (c)
, an amount of money equal to the value of the donation under par. (a)
shall be released from the appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (ta)
or both to be used for land acquisition activities for the same project for which any donation was made on or after August 9, 1989. The department shall determine how the moneys being released are to be allocated from these appropriations. This paragraph does not apply to transfers of land from agencies other than the department.
If the moneys allocated under par. (b)
for release from the appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (ta)
to match a donation under par. (b)
will exceed the annual bonding authority for the subprogram under s. 23.0917 (3)
for a given fiscal year, as adjusted under s. 23.0917 (5)
, the department shall release from the moneys appropriated under s. 20.866 (2) (ta)
the remaining amount available under that annual bonding authority, as adjusted under s. 23.0917 (5)
, for the given fiscal year and shall release in each following fiscal year from the moneys appropriated under s. 20.866 (2) (ta)
an amount equal to that annual bonding authority, as adjusted under s. 23.0917 (5)
, or equal to the amount still needed to match the donation, whichever is less, until the entire amount necessary to match the donation is released.
This subsection does not apply to an easement or land donated to the department under s. 23.092
(2q) Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson stewardship program; lower Wisconsin state riverway; ice age trail.
Except as provided in s. 23.0915 (2)
, the department in each fiscal year may not expend from the appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (tz)
(2r) Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson stewardship program; land acquisition.
Except as provided in s. 23.0915 (2)
, the department in each fiscal year may not expend from the appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (tz)
more than a total of $8,600,000 under this subsection. The purposes for which these moneys may be expended are the following:
(3) Interdepartmental cooperation. 23.09(3)(a)
The department shall cooperate with the several state departments and officials in the conduct of matters in which the interests of the respective departments or officials overlap. The cooperating agencies may provide by agreement for the manner of sharing expenses and responsibilities under this paragraph.
If the department and the board of regents of the University of Wisconsin System enter into an agreement to create a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a forest landscape ecologist, the department and the University of Wisconsin-Madison shall develop an annual work plan for the ecologist. In developing the annual work plan, the department shall consult with the council on forestry.
(4) Rescues, emergencies and disasters.
The department may on its own motion and shall, when so directed by the governor, assist other state, county, and local governmental agencies or do all things reasonably necessary in the rescue of persons lost in the forests of the state, or who may be otherwise in danger of loss of life, in the recovery of the bodies of drowned persons, and in cases of emergency or disaster, by assigning equipment and employees of the department to such rescue, recovery, emergency, and disaster relief missions.
(6) Interpretation, limitations.
This section shall not be construed as authorizing the department to change any penalty for violating any game law or regulation, or change the amount of any license established by the legislature, or to extend any open season or bag limit on migratory birds prescribed by federal law or regulations, or to contract any indebtedness or obligation beyond the appropriations made by the legislature.
Any person violating any rule of the department under this chapter shall forfeit not more than $100.
(8) Ways to waters.
The county board of any county may condemn a right-of-way for any public highway to any navigable stream, lake or other navigable waters. Such right-of-way shall be not less than 60 feet in width, and may be condemned in the manner provided by ch. 32
; but the legality or constitutionality of this provision shall in nowise affect the legality or constitutionality of the rest of this section.
(10) Conservation easements and rights in property.
Confirming all the powers hereinabove granted to the department and in furtherance thereof, the department may acquire any and all easements in the furtherance of public rights, including the right of access and use of lands and waters for hunting and fishing and the enjoyment of scenic beauty, together with the right to acquire all negative easements, restrictive covenants, covenants running with the land, and all rights for use of property of any nature whatsoever, however denominated, which may be lawfully acquired for the benefit of the public. The department also may grant leases and easements to properties and other lands under its management and control under such covenants as will preserve and protect such properties and lands for the purposes for which they were acquired.
(11) Aids to counties for the development of recreation facilities. 23.09(11)(a)(a)
The county board of any county which, by resolution, indicates its desire to develop outdoor recreation facilities on county lands entered under s. 28.11
may make application to the department for the apportionment of funds for state aids to counties for such purposes.
In this subsection, “
outdoor recreational facilities" includes picnic and camping grounds, hiking trails, trail-side campsites and shelters, cross-country ski trails, bridle trails, nature trails, snowmobile trails and areas, beaches and bath houses, toilets, shelters, wells and pumps, and fireplaces. Costs associated with the operation and maintenance of recreational facilities are not eligible for aids under this section. Costs associated with the development of facilities for spectator sports are not eligible for aids under this section.
The state aids granted under this section shall be no greater than but may be less than one-half the cost of such project as determined by the department.
Applications shall be made in the manner and on forms prescribed by the department. The department shall thereupon make such investigations as it deems necessary to satisfy itself that the project will best serve the public interest and need. Upon approval of the project the department shall encumber a sum not more than one-half of the cost estimate of such project. When the project is completed, the department shall pay to the county not more than one-half the actual cost of such project. The department may inform itself and require any necessary evidence from the county to substantiate the cost before payment is made.
The department in making its deliberations shall give careful consideration to whether or not the proposal is an integral part of an official comprehensive land and water use plan for the area as well as the relationship of the project to similar projects on other public lands. If requests for state aids exceed the funds allotted to the department for this program, those requests which form an integral part of a comprehensive plan shall be given first priority.
Recreation facilities developed under the assistance of this section shall not be converted to uses which are inconsistent with the purposes of this section without the approval of the department. The department shall not issue such approval unless there is evidence that such other uses are essential to and in accordance with an official comprehensive plan for the area. The department shall require that the proceeds from the disposal of facilities developed under this section shall be used to further the objectives of this section.
See also ch. NR 50
, Wis. adm. code.
(12) County fish and game projects. 23.09(12)(a)
The county board of any county which, by resolution, indicates its desire to plan and carry out a program of coordinated fish management projects or game management projects may make application to the department for the allocation and apportionment of funds for state aids appropriated for such purposes by s. 20.370 (5) (ar)
Fish management projects and game management projects include but are not limited because of enumeration to: game food seeding; browse improvement cutting; prescribed burning for game habitat improvement; creating game cover brush piles; creation of impoundments, construction, nature trails; game and fish habitat creation or improvement; lake, stream and spring pond rehabilitation and improvement; construction of fish shelters; stream side fencing; rough fish control; and other approved fish and game management projects.
State aid under this subsection to any county shall be distributed by the department according to the procedures adopted by the natural resources board. State aid granted to any county under this subsection shall be matched by the county and the state's share may not exceed one-half of the actual cost of the project. Personnel, equipment and materials furnished by the county may be included in computing the county share contribution.
Application shall be made in the manner and on forms prescribed by the department. The department shall make such investigations as it deems necessary to satisfy itself that the project will best serve the public interest and need and shall also consider the relationship of the project to similar projects on other public lands. Upon approval of the project the department shall encumber a sum not more than one-half of the cost estimate of such project. The department may inform itself and require any necessary evidence from the county to substantiate the cost before payment is made.
Recreation facilities developed under the assistance of this subsection shall not be converted to uses which are inconsistent with the purposes of this subsection without the approval of the department. The department shall require that the proceeds from the disposal of facilities developed under this subsection shall be used to further the objectives of this subsection.
Any county may cooperate with and participate in approved projects in any other county under this subsection.
See also ch. NR 50
, Wis. adm. code.
(13) Bong Air Base.
The department may acquire by gift, purchase or otherwise the federally-owned lands, improvements and appurtenances thereto within the Bong Air Base in Kenosha County which may be disposed of by the federal government to be used by the department for any of the purposes in sub. (2) (d)
. The department may establish zones within the boundaries of the Bong air base which offer a wide range of variable opportunities for active outdoor recreation consistent with sub. (2) (d)
and may promulgate rules to control the activities within the zones.
(15) Fees for hunting pheasants on department land.
If the department requires payment of a fee in order to hunt pheasants on land under its management and control, all of those fees shall be credited to the appropriation account under s. 20.370 (1) (hw)
(17m) Grants to counties for the development of wildlife habitat on county forests. 23.09(17m)(a)
The county board of any county, which by resolution indicates its desire to improve the natural environment for wildlife on county lands entered under s. 28.11
, may make application to the department for the allocation of funds appropriated for such purposes by s. 20.370 (5) (as)
The annual allocation for each county shall not exceed 10 cents for each acre entered under s. 28.11
, but any funds remaining from the appropriation made by s. 20.370 (5) (as)
and unallocated to the counties on March 31 of each year may be allotted to any county in an amount not to exceed an additional 10 cents per acre under the procedure established in this subsection. These aids shall be used to undertake wildlife management activities provided in the comprehensive county forest land use plan and included in the annual work plan and budget.
Wildlife management operations shall be limited to approved projects designed to benefit wildlife and the natural environment.
Application shall be made as part of the comprehensive county forest land use plan prepared under s. 28.11
. Before approving the plan, the department shall investigate all project proposals to make certain that the project is feasible, desirable and consistent with the plan. If the department approves the plan, the department shall pay the aids to the wildlife management fund account of the county. The county's wildlife management fund shall be a nonlapsing account except as provided in pars. (h)
Completion of such projects authorized by the department shall be certified by a representative of the department. All records of receipts and expenditures from the county wildlife management fund account shall be available to the department for inspection and audit at any time.
Any unauthorized expenditures from the county wildlife management fund account shall be restored to such fund upon demand by the department and if not restored shall become a charge against the county and the secretary of state shall include such unpaid sums in the state tax levy of the respective counties in subsequent years.
If the amount of the unencumbered balance in a county's wildlife management fund account exceeds either of the following, the department may demand that the county repay the excess amount to the department:
The amount that is equal to the sum of the allocations received by the county for the 3 previous years.