Wisconsin was once about 85% forested. Although much of the forest was depleted by forest fires and wasteful lumber industry practices, vast areas reseeded themselves naturally, and more than 820,000 acres (332,000 hectares) have been replanted. In 2002, Wisconsin had 15,963,000 acres (6,460,000 hectares) of forest, covering 46% of the state's land area; 70% of all forestlands are privately owned. Hardwoods make up about 80% of the sawtimber. The most heavily forested region is in the north. The timber industry reached its peak in the late 19th century. In 2002, lumber production totaled 583 million board feet.
Wisconsin's woods have recreational as well as commercial value. Two national forests—Chequamegon and Nicolet, both located in northern Wisconsin—cover 1,522,485 acres (616,150 hectares). The 10 state forests cover 471,329 acres (190,741 hectares).
Forest management and fire control programs are directed by the Department of Natural Resources. The US Forest Service operates a Forest Products Laboratory at Madison, in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin.