The mission of Polk County Forestry is to provide, protect, and manage forest resources for the environmental and social benefits they provide present and future citizens of Polk County.
Managing for environmental needs includes protecting and restoring watersheds, native communities, and biological diversity; plus, providing protection from wildfire, insects, diseases, and human degradation. Managing for social needs includes providing recreational opportunities, economic returns, and raw material for wood using industries.
Management must balance local needs with broader concerns through integration of forestry, wildlife, fisheries, endangered resources, water quality, soil and recreational recommendations and practices. Management will provide this variety of products and amenities for the future using sustainable forest management practices.


County Managed Forest Location Maps

Work Plans

Annual Report

Forest Description
The 17,182 acres of County Forest has two distinct areas. Two thirds of the County Forest is in the northwest of the county in the Town of Sterling. This area has sandy soils derived from glacial outwash. The most common trees are aspen, jack pine, red pine, and scrub oak. The remainder of the Forest is primarily in the northeast Towns of Lorain and McKinley. This area is dominated by aspen, northern hardwood, and red oak.

The Polk County Forest came into existence in 1935 when the County Board made a resolution to enter non-revenue (tax delinquent) lands under the Forest Crop program. The majority of this land was cutover and or burned over forestland.
Forest Uses
The County Forest is enjoyed by thousands of individuals for various pursuits, such as: ATV riding (on designated trails only), berry picking, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, snowmobiling, and firewood gathering (permits for cutting personal use firewood are available for $8 per standard cord).  Firewood Permit

County Forest Regulations

Polk County Code of Ordinances
Ch. 26Art. II. - County Forests

County Forest Definition
"County Forest" means all lands owned or leased by the county that are managed under Ch. 28, Wis. Stats.

Sec. 26-27(d). - Vehicle use
From April 1 until the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, all Polk County Forest Land trails are closed to ATV/UTV use, including segments of trail that may traverse Town, State, or private lands.

From the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through September 15th, you may operate your ATV/UTV only on DESIGNATED county forest roads and trails. Only machines meeting the State definition of an ATV/UTV are allowed on the trails. All other trails and forest roads are closed to ATV’s and UTV’s.

From July 1 through November 30, you may operate, your ATV/UTV on existing ATV/UTV trails and county forest roads that are at least 8-feet wide and are not gated, signed, or bermed.

Tree Stand and Ground Blind
Sec. 26-27. - Forest recreational use restrictions

Designated ATV Trail - Map
The Sterling/Jack Pine Loop ATV Trail is the only designated ATV trail, in Polk County Forest lands, located in the Town of Sterling.

Interactive Map Application
LogoRecreationViewer   Where Discovery Awaits!
This Polk County interactive map application allows users to discover where public and private recreational amenities are located along with associated information, maps, and aerial images.

Customer Service Feedback
Please take the time to let us know how we served you.
Feedback Form
Thank you!