Why you need a written management plan
If you’d like to pay higher taxes and don’t like the idea of a free consultation with a local forestry professional, a written plan for your woodland may not be for you. Otherwise, this post will help you understand these and other benefits. It will also describe your different options to get a plan.
Benefits of a written plan
Minnesota’s new lower property tax class requires a written plan. In order to qualify for Minnesota’s new lower woodland tax rate, you must have a current written forest management plan. Likewise for Minnesota’s Sustainable Forests Incentive Act, which provides annual per-acre payments.
Because both programs provide significant financial benefits, many woodland owners are expected to request a new Forest Stewardship plan in the coming months. The sooner you get on the list, the better.
Possible income tax benefit. As Mike Reichenbach writes in our ongoing Income Taxes and Family Forests series, a current written plan can be one important factor in your eligibility to write off woodland expenses on your federal income tax.
Free consultation with a local professional forester. Although written plans are not legally binding, they’re a great source of practical advice to help achieve your vision. A good plan will focus on your family’s specific vision and goals for your property. These goals may include wildlife habitat improvement, recreational uses, woodland improvement, income from timber harvesting, or other activities.
Some plans are written by Department of Natural Resources foresters, others by private consulting foresters. In either case, you get free advice from a professional based on your vision and desire for the future of the property.
Different ways to get a written plan
In order to qualify for most property tax, cost share, and incentive payment programs, plans generally must be written by a natural resource professional. There are at least two ways to obtain a plan:
1. Call your local DNR – Forestry Area Office and sign up for a free plan. If you have 20 or more wooded acres in Minnesota, you’re eligible for a free Forest Stewardship Plan (read more about Forest Stewardship Plans here.) DNR foresters prepare some plans themselves, but also administer contracts with approved local private-sector professionals to write plans. Either way, you’ll be contacted when your name gets to the top of the list.
2. Contact a local private-sector forester directly. Many private-sector foresters have active Forest Stewardship contracts and may be able to provide plans for free under that program. If not, paying for a plan is a small investment (typically a few hundred dollars, depending on property size) that will pay for itself very quickly through the programs described above.
Demand for written plans is expected to be very high over the next year or two. Working directly with a paid private-sector professional may be a way to get your plan completed quickly.
To review: Written woodland management plans make you eligible for a number of financial benefits. These benefits include low property tax rates, incentive payments, and cost-sharing for woodland improvement practices.
You can get a written plan for free or for a small investment either from your local DNR-Forestry office or from a local forestry professional. Demand for plans is expected to be very high over the next year or two, so the sooner you get on the list, the sooner you’ll be eligible for the many benefits already described.