Wisconsin's largest county-owned forest is about to get a little bigger.  Douglas County is adding 200 acres of additional forest land in the Town of Wascott - a deal that will set the budget back by $180,000. The Board approved the sale at their meeting on January 21 and .  Price aside, county officials believe that the land deal was a good investment for the future - both in access and in stumpage.

The parcel of land was one that was familiar to country forest managers.  It sits adjacent to other forest land that Douglas County already owns.  When the present owner decided that it was time to sell, it was time for the county to make a deal.  Jon Harris, director of Natural Resources and Forestry explains:

"We always had a long-standing relationship with the landowner who has always allowed us through these lands to access our lands.  Obviously he's looking to sell these so if they were sold to a party that no longer grants us access, it could really bottle up our stumpage opportunities down there."

County officials point out that not only was the land needed for future access, it also has a sizeable value of it's own for the natural resources contained on it.  Harris explains "We did a quick assessment of the property. There's probably $160,000, $170,000 of stumpage around these properties so from an investment standpoint, we will be recouping this money over time."

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Prior to finalizing the deal, the county did manage to negotiate the asking price down.  Originally the seller wanted $1,200 an acre but the county was able to drive that down to $900 an acre.

Before the final vote to approve the purchase, some county board members expressed opinions about the purchase price but they did not question that value; members agreed that the land was worth it for the future value from natural resources and from the access stand point.

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