Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Launches Web App for Hunters, Hikers

Journal Sentinel team developed an interactive map of Wisconsin to locate parcels of privately-owned land available for public use.


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.


“The interactive mapping tool will help hunters and hikers find access to more lands open to public use,” said Managing Editor George Stanley. “It’s an example of how we’re finding new ways to serve subscribers with information that hasn’t been easily accessible until now.”


The map is available to Journal Sentinel and subscribers at 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 ajvestal(at)jrn(dot)com.


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