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DNR to launch website listing lands which should be open to public hunting

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MADISON - The DNR plans to launch a Web site today showing over a million acres of private forest lands that get tax breaks for being open to hunting and other recreation.

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The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently found that many of those parcels are impossible to find, and legal loopholes are being used to improperly keep recreation enthusiasts out. The paper's Web site posted a mapping tool for people to find the parcels and identify their owners - and it later received complaints from people who said they were illegally being kept out. A company that makes fishing lures reportedly put up a fence to keep the public out - even though its property tax bill was cut from $19,000 to just $1,200 after promising to open the land.

Over 31,000 parcels receive $29-million in tax breaks each year. State Assembly Democrat Fred Kessler of Milwaukee says some landowners quote, "want to have their cake and eat it too." And both he and Senate Republican Mary Lazich of New Berlin plan to submit bills in the next session to close the loopholes. Governor Scott Walker had urged the DNR to create a mapping system in time for the fall hunting seasons. The map will be available on the DNR's Web site, accessible through Wisconsin.gov.

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