(PRWEB) September 18, 2012
An interactive map from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that locates 31,500 parcels of privately-owned land meant to be open to the public may prove as essential to hunters this season as camouflage, hand-warmers and a bow.
Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Raquel Rutledge investigated a state-run program that gives woodland owners huge property tax breaks -- in some cases as much as 95%. In return landowners promise to open their property to the public for hunting, hiking, fishing and other recreation.
The trouble is, while taxpayers pick up the tab -- totaling tens of millions of dollars a year -- it can be nearly impossible for anyone other than the landowner to enjoy the benefits.
The Hidden Hunting Lands investigation released Sept. 15, examines public access to more than a million acres of managed forest land, exposing how the DNR lacks maps, and key contact information of landowners and policy allows landlocked parcels into the program.
News application developer Allan James Vestal and interactive designer Emily Yount created an interactive map of Wisconsin to locate parcels of land enrolled in this program by each county. Contact information for the landowner, the local forester and GPS coordinates are also provided.
“Our map is a cutting-edge tool that fills a hole created by the state, helping hunters, hikers and others who may want to use this land,” said Journal Sentinel Managing Editor George Stanley. “It is an example of how we are providing critical information to readers in new digital formats.”
The map is available to Journal Sentinel and JSOnline.com subscribers at http://www.jsonline.com/hiddenhunting. The Journal Sentinel is working on a mobile app that will be available to the public.
Feedback on the app can be sent to Vestal at email@example.com.