Forestland Ownership In Oneida And Vilas Counties, Wisconsin, 1975-1994
Privately owned forests in the United States are being divided, roaded, and developed by increasing numbers of second-home buyers, retirees, and recreation enthusiasts. Forested parcels adjacent to or embedded in public land are considered especially desirable and a premium is being paid for the aesthetic or recreational amenities associated with such properties. However, virtually all information on variations in forestland prices in northern Wisconsin is anecdotal. One objective of this study was to identify parcel characteristics that influenced forestland prices in Vilas and Oneida counties, Wisconsin, between 1975 and 1994. A second objective was to ascertain what impact the creation and expansion of the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest (NHALSF) had on the forestland market in Vilas and Oneida counties during this time period. Several trends suggest that the drive to acquire forestland for the construction of second homes in Vilas and Oneida counties is strong and that the NHALSF continues to impact forestland prices. Forestland in Vilas and Oneida counties was shown to react to macroeconomic forces as if it were a luxury good (that is, declining sales during a recession, increasing sales during an economic upturn) and not simply a timber resource. Positive relationships were identified between the per-acre price of forestland, the presence of highway frontage, and parcel size for the years 1975, 1980, and 1990. Forested parcels adjacent to the NHALSF were shown to have higher per-acre prices than parcels without frontage on the NHALSF. The acquisition of land by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to expand the NHALSF has continued in recent decades, taking large quantities of land off the "open market." The reduced supply of available parcels in and near the NHALSF, as well as the highly desirable nature of owning forestland with frontage on public land, has caused the price of the remaining privately owned forestland in Vilas and Oneida counties to increase faster than similar forestland in other northern counties of Wisconsin.
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