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      Act 146. "Reserved Forestland". Current Use Program in Vermont Expanding Old Growth Forest + Other Changes

      Change is a coming.

      Landowners of 27 or more acres in Vermont have, since 1980, benefitted significantly from Vermont's Current Use Program and it's lower tax rate on land farmed or forests managed through judicious logging. It's estimated enrolled landowners save an average of 88%.

      Rather than being taxed at residential rates, Current Use encourages conservation by incentivizing larger land owners with tax breaks, diluting the desire to subdivide and develop. Hugely popular, this Vermont program has helped keep our Green Mountains green, even if conditioned on farming or, more broadly, selective cutting management.

      Compared with other states in the northeast, Vermont has precious little old growth forest. For anyone who has visited Muir Woods north of San Francisco, old growth forests are magical. But it's not just the beauty.

      From a article“The science has made abundantly clear that wild forests store and sequester more carbon, on average, than managed forests,” said Jon Leibowitz, executive director of Northeast Wilderness Trust, one of the only groups in the Northeast that doesn’t allow logging on the land it conserves. “Science has also made abundantly clear that wild, old and complex forests harbor more biodiversity than young and managed forests.” 

      Starting July 1st, 2023 and thanks to Rep. Amy Sheldon, D-Middlebury who introduced the Act 146 bill, H.697 and Governor Phil Scott who signed it into law in May of 2022, current use enrolled land owners can start submitting applications for their land to be consdered as the new managed forest sub-category, "Reserved Forestland". Those with less than 100 acres will need at least 50% of their land classfied as "significant or sensitive", the determining criteria,and those with 100 or more acres, at least 30%. Expanding on elligibility criteria such lots should:

      1. Prevent timber management (steep slopes, etc.) and, or;

      2. Provide a strong ecological (or appropriate historical/cultural) basis for managing for values other than sawtimber.

      Just 1% of Vermont's 4.6 million forested acres are currently considered old growth; having more "wild" forest, especially as other states in the northeast have more old growth forests, is the target. After all, it's the unspoiled nature that most of us love about Vermont.

      Here's the Vermont Dept of Forests, Park and Recreation page on Act 146. Standards are projected to be completed by the end of this year using an October, 2021 report as foundation. This January 14, 2022 Reserve Forestland Report Summary may be of interest. 15% of elligble UVA (Use Value Appraisal, another name for the Current Use Program) parcels are expected to qualify.

      This VPR story is a good listen.

      Fore any related questions, Keith Thompson, FPR Private Lands Program Manager

      Let it grow. The bears and moose will love it.







      Other notable Current Use updates over the last ten years:

      Solar, 7.1.2021

      The installation of a solar generation facility on land that is, in the aggregate, located on 0.1 acre or less, and which land otherwise qualifies for Current Use as agricultural land or open land (the latter of which shall qualify as managed forestland as per the Commissioner of Forest, Park and Recreation), shall not be considered development for the purposes of disqualification from Current Use.

      Land Use Tax Calculation Change 10.2.2015

      The Land Use Change Tax (LUCT) is changing from 20%/10% of the land withdrawn from the program based on a pro-rated value per acre to 10% of the fair market value of the actual parcel removed.

      Management Plan Updates 2014

      To keep a parcel eligible for enrollment, owners of managed forestland must submit a management plan update on or before April 1 of the year in which the plan expires. 

      Wastewater Systems as Development & Non-Conservation Timber Cutting 2012 

      The definition of “development” has been amended to provide that enrolled land is also considered developed – and therefore ineligible for continued enrollment – if a wastewater system permit has been issued for the land pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 1973 and the Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation has certified to the Director of Property Valuation and Review that the permit is contrary to a forest or conservation management plan or the minimum acceptable standards for forest management; use of the parcel would violate the conservation management standards; or after consulting with the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the Commissioner certifies that the permit is not part of a farm operation. This replaces the legislation enacted last session regarding a broader group of permits, is retroactive to July 1, 2011 and applies only to wastewater permits issued after that date.

      Several clarifying and technical amendments were made to the current use statutes, including that timber cutting contrary to a forest or conservation management plan during the remaining term of the plan or contrary to the minimum acceptable standards for forest management if the plan has expired will constitute development and that renewal plans must be filed no later than April 1 of the year in which the initial 10-year plan expires.

      Maple Sweet Real Estate covers all of Vermont. Call 800-525-7965, text 802-793-1515, email or visit to set up showings, list your property, move into new digs or buy a much bigger piece.

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      Vermont Mandatory Consumer Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.

      Information Disclosure: information provided and relayed by Maple Sweet Real Estate is not represented to be accurate or free of errors. While substantial efforts are made to obtain and convey information from sources deemed dependable, Maple Sweet Real Estate does not guarantee or warranty such information is accurate or reliable. All information should be independently verified.

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