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Appeals court: Can’t lease managed forest land

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A Wisconsin appeals court says no one may lease managed forest land regardless of whether it’s open or closed to the public.

Land owners who enroll their land in the managed forest program pay reduced property taxes as an incentive to manage the land in a sustainable way. MFL enrollees must designate whether the land is open or closed to public recreation. State law prohibits leasing such land.

A judge earlier this year found Wayne Lautenbach, who manages closed managed forest land in Door County, illegally leased it to a hunter for $750.

Lautenbach argued on appeal the lease prohibition applies only to open land. The 3rd District Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling Tuesday that state law makes no such distinction.

Lautenbach’s attorney declined to comment.

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