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Woodland management plans now require a fee

 The N.C. Board of Agriculture approved fees for woodland management plans this past August, following a directive from the state General Assembly.

The state budget approved by the General Assembly directed the N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) to start charging for woodland plans, commonly referred to as forest management plans. The budget bill also allowed the Board of Agriculture to review and approve the fees.

“The North Carolina Forest Service has been helping protect, manage and promote North Carolina’s forests for nearly 100 years,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “They have a lot of experience assisting woodland owners with valuable and tax-saving management advice. I believe the Board of Agriculture approved reasonable fees that will allow the N.C. Forest Service to continue delivering the professional services its customers have come to expect.”

Woodland plans will have a base fee of $45. In addition, there will be a fee of $3 per acre for forest management plans and forest stewardship plans, both of which are comprehensive plans. Practice plans, which are simpler plans that usually address just one management practice, will cost $2 per acre in addition to the base fee.

The NCFS offers a variety of forestry programs and services that are still free of charge.

There are financial and environmental benefits to having a woodland plan, said Sean Brogan, director of forest management and development for the NCFS. Certain types of plans can qualify a landowner for participation in the state’s Forestry Present Use Valuation Program, resulting in significant property tax reductions. The tax savings realized in the first year alone are usually more than enough to cover the cost of a woodland plan, Brogan said. Woodland plan preparation fees can also be considered a deductible management expense for annual tax purposes.

Woodland plans provide detailed forestry recommendations, but they can also advise landowners on wildlife habitat, soil and water protection, recreation opportunities and aesthetics. In addition, they can help qualify landowners for forestry recognition programs, including forest certification.

Landowners interested in state or federal cost-share programs typically need an approved woodland plan. Participation in many of these programs results in a cost savings of 40 percent or more, depending on the program. Cost-share payments help to reduce the initial capital investment needed for many forestry projects, which leads to higher overall financial returns to the woodland owner.

Landowners interested in forestry advice and a woodland plan should contact their local county ranger for more details. The Rowan  County Rangers office can be reached at 704-216-8993. Landowners also can call the agency’s central office at 919-857-4801 for assistance

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