The Douglas County Board will soon consider a plan to guide management and use of Douglas County forests for the next 15 years.

The county's forestry, parks and recreation committee made the recommendation Monday, Oct. 4, to adopt the Douglas County Forest Comprehensive Land-Use Plan 2021-2035.

The plan will guide resource and habitat management, recreation and protection of 280,090 acres of county-owned forest, the largest county forest in Wisconsin.

The goal is to encourage planned development, manage for optimum production of forest products while being mindful of recreational opportunities, wildlife, watershed protection and stream flow stabilization, recognizing that multiple-use ensures maximum benefit to the public.

It’s the sixth time since 1965 county officials have developed a plan for managing the county forests. The initial plan focused primarily on supplying raw materials to the timber industry, reducing taxpayer cost and increasing job opportunities. Major revisions in 1976, 1986, 1997 and 2006 incorporated new knowledge, changing management philosophies and societal values.

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The current plan recognizes the multitude of recreational opportunities; the forest's draw for the tourism industry; and the ecological value of the forest for water treatment and air purification. It also factors in the role the resource plays in Wisconsin’s $24 billion forest products industry that supports about 64,000 jobs.

The plan received one comment from a community member, which officials responded to in the final version of the plan.

It has also gone through an internal review by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said Jon Harris, director of natural resources and forestry. He said there were no major changes between the draft plan and the final plan that will be presented to the board at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Government Center Boardroom. The plan will be available at