This article reflects suggested wording sent to Rep. Adam Bowling for consideration in introducing the house resolution: House Concurrent Resolution 13 was enacted in the 2002 regular Session. The Resolution was based on the knowledge that:
The resolution directed the LRC to study taxes and related policies to identify incentives and disincentives for good forest management practices. This was an effort to find reasons why so very few woodland owners try to improve the quality of their timber and increase the economic productivity of each acre. The product of this research was LRC report 307, which is available from LRC.
Recognizing that the issue of the lack of forest management in Kentucky that prompted Resolution 13 in 2002 still exists, we need to revisit 307. The most important findings were never acted upon, resulting in a continued lack of forest management and the potential unconstitutional taxation of forest land where sound forest management practices were being conducted over the last 19 years.
The property tax issue in Report 307 produced opposing views that need close examination and resolution. The University of Kentucky, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (UK) citing results of a study that found that, "The property tax burden was much greater on forestland than on cropland when measured as a proportion of earnings." Further this unequal burden was a result of the use of an agricultural land assessment procedure that was not applicable for the equitable valuation of well managed forest lands. An equal burden is required so the heavier tax burden is unconstitutional according the Kentucky Supreme Court. However, the Kentucky Department of Revenue cited a Supreme Court ruling that said Kentucky also could not constitutionally mandate a particular valuation method. As it stands, UK’s analysis of the current forest land assessment methodology indicates an inequity in assessment of managed forest land compared to other agricultural uses and there are means to fix this inequity while avoiding constitutionality issues that have plagued previous deliberations. Clearly, the billions in economic contributions of our forests to industry and jobs in KY demand that these opposing views be examined and resolved.
Fortunately, in the nearly two decades since research Report 307 was completed, several significant developments have occurred that should be helpful in finding the best policy for improving the productivity of Kentucky's forests including the development of an equitable forest land assessment procedure that could be used by the Department of Revenue in the assessment of a well-managed forest, and the availability of a nationally recognized standard that can be used by PVAs to define well-managed forests.
Therefore, we resolve that University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources and Kentucky Department of Revenue begin work together to produce an assessment procedure for well managed forests to ensure an equitable taxation of these lands and provide for the encouragement of management to help ensure the sustainability of Kentucky’s forests and maximize the socio-economic benefits derived from them. We request monthly progress reports given to the sponsor of this resolution (can be written, verbal or electronic).
New 2021 American tree farm standards
The new 2021 ATFS Standards of Sustainability were approved by AFF's Board of Trustees on November 11th, 2020 and enacted January 1,2020. These new Standards, which serve as the basis of the American Tree Farm System® certification program, will replace the 2015-2020 Standards of Sustainability.
Additional information regarding training dates will be coming soon.
Please contact ATFS Certification Manager, Leigh Peters, email@example.com.
Emma Sass and Brett Butler
Forests provide benefits at local, regional, and global scales. Families and individuals own more wooded land than any other group in the U.S., and their decisions about how to manage and care for their land have broad impacts. Understanding these woodland owners in Kentucky, including what they do with their land and why, and what their challenges and needs are, is important to help support healthy forests and vibrant communities now and into the future.
Here, we use “woodland” as a broad term to include woods, woodlots, timberlands, and forests – any patch of trees that’s more than one acre in size. Families and individuals who own wooded land – collectively, “family woodland owners,” can be one person, a joint ownership of spouses or other individuals, family partnerships, family LLCs or LLPs, and family trusts or estates. We use “ownerships” to refer to all the owners of a piece of woodland.
To better understand family woodland owners, the USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program conducts the National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS). The survey asks landowners about who they are, why they own their wooded land, what they have done with it in the past, and what do they intend to do with it in the future. Below we present results from 181 randomly selected Kentucky woodland ownerships with 1+ acres who responded to the survey in 2017 and 2018.
Family Woodland Owners Count!
An estimated 8.8 million acres of wooded land in Kentucky are owned by an estimated 410,000 family ownerships. Family ownerships control 71% of Kentucky’s wooded land, more than any other ownership group, including the state or federal government or forest industry.
Size of Holdings Makes a Big Difference
The average wooded land ownership (with 1+ acres) in Kentucky has 22 acres of wooded land. 67% of the ownerships have relatively small holdings between 1-9 acres, but 48% of the area of wooded land is owned by ownerships with 100 acres or more. This is important because size of holdings limits what an ownership can do with their land, such as timber harvesting, wildfire protection, or control of invasive species, and often impacts what programs they are eligible for. Because of the increased management options, program involvement, and other dynamics of larger ownerships, all following results are for family woodland owners with 10 or more acres.
Beauty, Wildlife, and Nature are What Matter
The most commonly cited reasons for owning woodland in Kentucky are related to the beauty and privacy the wooded land provides as well as protecting wildlife habitat. The goal of passing land onto future generations and land investment is also important to many owners. Hunting and other recreation is highly regarded as an important reason for owning wooded land in Kentucky.
They Love Their Land
Most family forest owners in Kentucky have a deep love of their land. The vast majority of owners, 81%, agree or strongly agree with the statement “I want my wooded land to stay wooded.” 73% of owners agree or strongly that they have a strong emotional tie to their wooded land, and 78% say they know their wooded land well.
In the past five years, around one in eight (12%) family woodland owners have cut or removed trees for sale, and one in three (33%) have cut trees for their own use. 20% have improved wildlife habitat, and 15% have reduced invasive plants. Only 3% have a written management plan and 6% have received woodland management advice in the previous five years.
They are Older
The average age of primary decision makers for family-owned woodland in Kentucky is 64 years. 17% of acres are owned by people who plan to transfer some or all of their wooded land in the next five years, and a majority of ownerships (57%) are worried about keeping the land intact for future generations. 73% of primary decision makers are male.
Woodland conservation and management depend on the people who own it – in Kentucky, most of these acres are held by individuals and families. Owners care about and manage their wooded land, but often the traditional forms of engagement, such as having a management plan or working with a professional, are not widely used. Understanding the threats to the land – including the loss of forest through development, parcelization, invasive plants, disease, and insects, and other issues – is critical for conservation efforts. Using a common language and designing policies and programs that meet the needs of landowners and professionals will have a major impact on the current and future owners and the vital lands that they own.
For more results, visit the USDA Forest Service’s National Woodland Owner Survey website at www.fia.fs.fed.us/nwos. To learn more about the services and resources available to woodland owners in your state, contact your local forestry agency or association.
Emma Sass is a Research Fellow with the Family Forest Research Center and University of Massachusetts Amherst. Brett Butler is a Research Forester with the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and Family Forest Research Center.
News from the Licking River Basin
December 2020 edition of In the Flow
Licking River Basin Coordinator, Kentucky Division of Water
Banklick Watershed Council
"Our zoning request was approved for public access to our planned nature preserve along Brushy Fork Creek in Independence, KY. We are now positioned to construct an entrance area and trailhead using funding from the Duke Energy Foundation. The Brushy Fork Nature Preserve project is a partnership with the Kenton Conservancy and is now 104+ acres, with almost 2 acres of wetland, 6,000 linear feet of creek, and the potential to support 2.25 miles of passive recreation trails.
The Banklick Watershed Council has partnered with the Green Team at Groundworks Ohio River Valley to improve trails, repair bridges, address erosion, and remove hazards along trails along Banklick Creek and Doe Run Lake. This project is in partnership with the Kenton Conservancy and Kenton County Parks, with contributions from the R.C. Durr Foundation. "
Mason County Conservation District
"Lee’s Creek was selected as a priority watershed through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). A signup period was established, applications were ranked, and over $100,000 was obligated to address resource concerns. Some of the practices included fencing, to exclude cattle from sensitive areas, rotational grazing, and seeding of marginal land to permanent vegetation to name a few.
Leopold Conservation Award 2021
An online, interactive course on the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is now available from the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station. The course is available for free to anyone through a simple registration process. The learner will be introduced to the basic ecology and silvics, historic significance, and demise of the tree species that once occupied 200 million acres in the eastern U.S. The course includes a glossary and links to dendrology tables, external webpages, and published scientific papers. A certificate of completion qualifies for 1 CFE credit with the Society of American Foresters.
The course, An Introduction to the American Chestnut, was developed by Stacy Clark, research forester with the Southern Research Station and adjunct faculty in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee.
Please contact Stacy Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-318-8391 with any questions about the course.
Find it here:
Upon completion of this course, you will understand the basic biology and silvics of the American chestnut and the factors that led to its demise. This course is interactive and accessible. You will have access to scientific literature, videos, web links, and dendrology tables for the American chestnut.
From the USDA Farm Service Agency Outreach Focus
The 2018 Farm Bill authorized alternative documentation for heirs’ property operators to establish a farm number. A farm number is required to be eligible for many different USDA programs, including lending, disaster relief programs, and participation in county committees. Operators on heirs’ property who cannot provide owner verification, or a lease agreement, may provide alternative documents to substantiate they are in general control of the farming operation. Download the fact sheet on the Heirs' Property Landowners webpage .