“Managed Forest Land Use” Should Mean Just That in Vermont – “Managed”

Contact: Joe Mullin, Northeastern States Manager

  • On April 20, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to the Vermont Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy opposing House Bill 697 (H. 697).
  • If enacted, this legislation would set a dangerous precedent by allowing landowners to refrain from managing their forest land while still qualifying for enrollment in the Managed Forest Land Use Value Program.
  • As CSF cited in its testimony, providing incentives counter to active forest management would result in negative impacts on forest health, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreational opportunities for Vermont’s sportsmen and women.

Why it Matters: CSF has worked with fish and wildlife and forest resource managers at both the state and federal levels in its continued effort to advocate for active forest management practices on private and public lands across the nation. Compared to passive management, active management is more effective for improving wildlife habitat, increasing forest resiliency, controlling disease, pests, and invasive species, and improving access and opportunity for sportsmen and women. Drastically changing the state’s present use valuation program by incentivizing landowners to not sustainably manage their forests would have significant negative economic and ecological effects across the state.

On April 20, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to the Vermont Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy regarding House Bill 697 (H. 697) – legislation that would allow property owners to qualify for enrollment in the Managed Forest Land Use Value Program despite refraining from managing their forest land.

Forestry-related policies have been front and center in the Green Mountain State as of late. Legislation such as H. 697, which disincentivizes sustainable forest management, would detrimentally affect the state’s forest economy, reduce the acreage of young forests and other early successional habitats, prevent higher carbon sequestration rates, reduce habitat diversity, and reduce opportunities for Vermont’s sportsmen and women.

Vermont’s forest economy contributes over 13,000 jobs and $2.1 billion to the state’s economy. If the state were to provide property tax incentives for landowners to not manage their forest lands, there would be an overall decline in forest management activities, thus negatively affecting these economic figures.

Equally concerning are the impacts that H. 697 would have on the state’s wildlife. Incentivizing landowners to not sustainably manage their forest lands would further reduce the acreage of young forests and other early successional habitats, which are in short supply in Vermont despite the critical role of these habitats for supporting a range of wildlife species – many of which are identified in Vermont’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan as Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

CSF will continue to engage on policy to support active forest management in the northeast and across the nation. Additional updates will be provided as they are made available.

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