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Wisconsin State Land Right-of-Way (3-WI-b)

In Wisconsin, a developer may need a State Land Right-of-Way to access state lands. Any department or agency having jurisdiction over state lands has the authority to grant easements through, over, or along the property. This includes easements for public utility service and any necessary poles, wires, structures, lines, conduits, pipes or pipelines for heat, light, water, gas, sewer, and power. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 24.40(1). Wisconsin state lands fall under the jurisdiction of the Wisconsin Public Lands Commission (Public Lands Commission) or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Department of Natural Resources).



State Land Right-of-Way Process

3-WI-b.1 to 3-WI-b.2 — Is the Project Located on Wisconsin State Park Lands or State Forest Lands?

The Department of Natural Resources has the authority to lease state park lands or state forest lands. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 27.01(2)(g), Wis. Stat. Ann. § 26.08(1). The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources can grant Right-of-Ways for public or private roads, utility lines, or other public purposes, as long as the easement does not conflict with development plans. If the proposed project is located on state park land or state forestland, the developer must submit a State Land Right-of-Way Application (Application) to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, as prescribed.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides a guidance document detailing specific language needed in an agreement based on the attributes of an individual easement. The document can be located here: Easement Guidance Document.

3-WI-b.3 — Wisconsin Public Lands Commission State Land Right-of-Way Application

The Wisconsin Public Lands Commission has the authority to grant leases and easements for all other state public lands, and the ability to determine the payment and conditions of the lease. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 24.39(1). In addition, the Wisconsin Public Lands Commission can lease the right to fill navigable streams along segments of waterbodies where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides and maintains commercial navigation channels, as long as the purpose of the lease is for improving navigation. Wis. Stat. Ann. §24.39(4)(a-d). If the proposed project is located on Wisconsin Public Land Commission Lands, the developer must submit a State Land Right-of-Way Application (Application) to the Commission as prescribed.

3-WI-b.4 to 3-WI-b.5 — Review Application Materials for Completeness

The Wisconsin Public Lands Commission or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources must review the Application for administrative and technical completeness.

3-WI-b.6 to 3-WI-b.7 — Are There Unusual Circumstances or an Impairment of Project Values?

Applications to the Department of Natural Resources that have unusual circumstances or involve a material impairment of project values must also be reviewed by the Wisconsin Board of Natural Resources. Wis. Admin. Code NR § 1.485.

3-WI-b.8 to 3-WI-b.10 — Assess Application for Approval

The Wisconsin Public Lands Commission or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources must assess the Application for approval. The developer must comply with the conditions or restrictions on the lease. Leases issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are valid for 15 years, unless provided otherwise Wis. Stat. Ann. § 26.08(2)(a). The leases to fill navigable streams, issued by the Wisconsin Public Lands Commission, cannot exceed 50 years and must include conditions necessary for the public interest Wis. Stat. Ann. §24.39(4)(e).

3-WI-b.11 — Appeal Decision (Optional)

A developer may appeal a decision for judicial review. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 227.52 -227.53.


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