KWOA encourages members of the Kentucky Woodland Community to contact their legislators in support of HJR 60, a joint resolution that would direct the Department of Revenue and the University of Kentucky's Forestry and Natural Resources Department to recommend equitable property tax assessment procedures for well-managed forests. Official wording for HJFR 60 is shown below. This resolution reflects the ongoing work of KWOA to advance the sustainability and fair tax treatment of private non-commercial forests. Full wording of HJR 60 is shown below posted on 2/11/2021. Also see the 1/28/21 posting for history and background regarding the resolution.
Please consider taking action now by calling the toll-free message line is 1-800-372-7181, to leave a messages for a legislators as follows:
You can track action on HJR 60 here: https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/21rs/hjr60.html
Official Wording for Proposed House Joint Resolution HJR 60
A JOINT RESOLUTION directing the Department of Revenue and the University of Kentucky's Forestry and Natural Resources Department to recommend equitable property tax assessment procedures for well-managed forests.
WHEREAS, well-managed, family-owned, non-industrial forests are central to providing the raw material that fuels the $13 billion in economic contributions from the forest industry sector annually, and
WHEREAS, incentivizing family forest owners, who own the majority of the forestlands in Kentucky, to conduct sound forest practices wiell help sustain the socio-economic benefits that forest resources provide to Kentucky; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution 13 of the 2002 Regular Session of the General Assembly, the Legislative Research Commission issued Research Report No. 307, which identified tax and related policies that had the effect of incentivizing or disincentivizing good forest management practices in the Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, the examination of property tax issues impacting forest management practices in Research Report No. 307 produced conflicting views on how to equitably and constitutionally assess property taxes on well-managed forestlands; and
WHEREAS, this lack of agreement and failure to act upon the report's most important findings resulted in continued poor forest management of many forestlands in the Commonwealth and the potential unconstitutional taxation of forestland where sound forest management practices were being implemented; and
WHEREAS, significant developments have occurred since the issuance of Research Report No. 307 that would be helpful in finding the best policies for improving the productivity of Kentucky's forests, including the availability of a nationally-recognized standard that could be used by property valuation administrators to define well-managed forests;
Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:
Section 11. The Department of Revenue and the University of Kentucky's Forestry and Natural Resources Department shall coordinate together to submit a report to the Legislative Research Commission no later than December 1, 2021, detailing their recommendations for establishing property tax assessment procedures for well-managed forests that ensure equitable taxation of these lands and encourage sound forest management practices that will promote the sustainability of Kentucky’s forests and maximize the socio-economic benefits derived from them.
NRCS in Kentucky is accepting applications from eligible entities for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP - ALE). Applications must be made through eligible entities, not directly from landowners to NRCS. Please address any questions to Matt Hutchison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-224-7444.
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP - ALE) focuses on protecting and conserving productive agricultural lands. Landowners are compensated for enrolling their land in easements.
Partners include state or local agencies and certain non-profits. Landowners continue to own their property but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement. The cooperating entity applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner, permanently protecting its agricultural use and conservation values. Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, pastureland and forestlands. Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under this program.
Applications from eligible entities for 2021 ACEP-ALE funding must be received by February 26, 2021 to be considered for the current funding cycle. Landowners who wish to be considered for ACEP-ALE must make application to an eligible entity. Entities interested in agricultural easements should contact their local USDA service center or visit the Kentucky NRCS ACEP-ALE website.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making $12 million available to forest landowners with land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Landowners and agricultural producers with active CRP contracts involving forest cover can now sign up for the Forest Management Incentive (FMI), which provides financial incentives to encourage healthy forest management practices.
The incentive payment is the lower of:
Carbon Credits: Carbon credit programs have been around for a long time, but currently are not economically feasible for owners with less than a few thousand acres or so. KWOA director, Jimmie Sizemore reported on two programs that promise to provide benefits for smaller woodland owners:
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).
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.
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.