Farmers can harvest hay from approximately 11,500 acres of selected state-owned lands, Gov. Scott Walker announced this week.
Farmers may also graze cattle on state-owned land, although they will be responsible for setting up temporary electric fencing and watering tanks to facilitate the grazing.
"The drought is causing a real hardship for farmers, particularly in the southern part of the state who don't have enough feed for their animals," Gov. Walker said. "One way we can help bring some relief is to open up state land that is not normally harvested for hay, so that farmers can come in and harvest on a first come, first served basis without a fee. "
The special harvest ends Aug. 10 for prairie grasses and Aug. 30 for cool season grasses.
DNR is limiting haying and grazing to this time period to allow for adequate regrowth of the grass to provide habitat for wildlife and hunting cover to sportsmen and women in the fall.
Only one cutting of hay will be allowed during the harvest window.
Farmers participating in the program will be required to sign an agreement specifying that the hay taken from state-owned property will be used for livestock and not sold.
Areas authorized for harvesting do not include nor in any way affect land to be used for or previously sold under hay sale agreements with the department.
Farmers looking for more information can call toll free 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463), seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., or type in the word DROUGHT in the search box at http://dnr.wi.gov/.
For comprehensive information and resources relating to the 2012 drought and heat wave, go to www.ready.wi.gov.