The state Department of Environmental Conservation will host a series of public meetings around the state in March on how a forest tax law can be improved.
The 480-a Forest Tax Law provides tax incentives for owners of 50 or more acres of forest lands, provided the owners develop a forest management plan and produce forest products.
“An owner must first decide if he or she is willing to commit land to the production of forest crops and to follow a management plan, prepared by a forester and approved DEC, for the next succeeding ten years beginning each year that they receive a tax exemption,” the DEC explains. “If this analysis shows that a tax reduction can be obtained, a forester should be consulted for professional advice about the approximate costs of preparing a management plan and making investments in the forest which may be required by the plan.
“(A management plan) is a document which shows by maps, tables and written text, the boundaries and size of the forest, what kinds and sizes of trees it contains and what needs to be done to produce and harvest forest crops,” the DEC continues. “Eligible tracts must be managed primarily for forest crop production, although other compatible uses, such as forest recreation and watershed management can be allowed. A plan identifies scheduled commercial harvests, noncommercial thinnings, road construction and other management practices. These practices are listed in a scheduled part of the plan that shows the work to be done each year.”
The 480-a law was enacted in 1974, and the department says there are more than 3,400 forest owners taking part, representing about 1.2 million acres of forest lands. The purpose of the meetings is to take public comment on “areas of the program that could be improved including increasing compliance, reducing administrative burdens, and improving forestry outcomes.”
There will be a public meeting in Plattsburgh on March 7 at 10 a.m. and one in Lowville on March 27, plus several others in Syracuse, New Paltz, Millbrook and Schenectady. There will also be a webinar on April 5 for those who can’t attend a meeting. Written comments can be submitted to email@example.com.
For the full list of meetings, as well as more information on the 480-a law, go to www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5236.html.