480-a offers the potential for you to save substantially on your property taxes, but it also requires a commitment to managing your woodlot for the next 10 years. Consider the benefits and obligations carefully before you enroll.
If you own a woodlot in the New York City Watershed, the Watershed Agricultural Council provides money to help you enroll in 480-a. The New York City Watershed includes portions of eight New York counties: Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Putnam, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester.
480-a requires you to have and follow a management plan for your woodlot written by a professional forester. Choosing the right forester for you will help not only during plan creation, but also when you decide to harvest timber.
Once you have a written management plan, you must submit that plan and the required forms to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in order to enroll in 480-a. Be sure to enroll by December 31 to receive your tax break for the coming year.
If you were previously approved for Watershed Agricultural Council cost-share funding, you can receive your payment once you've enrolled in 480-a. Send a copy of your 480-a certificate of approval, management plan, and work schedule to the Council, and your check will be mailed within 30 days.
If you enroll your land in the New York State 480-a Forest Tax Law Program, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) requires you to update your management plan every 5 years. How do you go about getting that update done?
Agricultural assessments can reduce your property taxes for land actively used for farming. Many farm products qualify, but the program has acreage and earnings thresholds and time commitments. Consider the benefits and obligations carefully before you enroll.
Submit your soils map, completed application, and lease agreement (if leasing land to a farmer) to your local assessor. Your assessor must receive all these documents before March 1 for you to receive your agricultural assessment and have your taxes lowered.
You can subtract the value of the timber when you first purchased or inherited your woodlot – your "basis" – from your taxable income when you have a timber sale. This reduces your taxable income. If you don't know your woodlot's basis, a consulting forester can help you determine it.
How you report income from logging and how much tax you owe depend on which of 3 tax classes your woodlot falls into. You can determine your woodlot's tax class by answering a few simple questions about why you own it and how you use it.
Once you've worked with an assessor to begin your application, contact the Soil and Water Conservation District office for the county where your woodlot is located. They will map the soils on your property, and your assessor will use that information to calculate your tax break.
The best place to start when seeking an agricultural assessment is the tax assessor for the town where your woodlot is located. Your assessor can confirm your eligibility, help you fill out a program application, and provide directions for next steps.
Peak autumn color only lasts a few days each year. When your woodlot erupts in orange, yellow, and red, be ready to photograph this beautiful season.
The United States Geological Survey has been creating maps since 1884, and they're all available online for free.
Make sure your forester and logger know your expectations for your favorite spots on your woodlot, like a special trail or view.
Beauty isn’t just in what you see. By learning common bird songs and calls, you can tune in to your woodlot’s beautiful sounds as well.
Scenic views. Burbling streams. Old stone walls. Check out these special places on other woodlots to get some fresh ideas for your own.
Free aerial photos and topographic maps can reveal a lot about your property, and a simple hike can turn into a natural history lesson when you can read the woods.
Just as people start going to bed, your woodlot is waking up. Many animals are only active at night. Sit outside with your ears open, and you might surprise yourself with what you hear.
In this activity, you’ll use air-dry clay to perfectly preserve the veins and shapes of a leaf in the form of a small, shallow bowl.
Having a georeferenced .pdf map on your phone means you can track your position in the field and mark points of interest, even without cell phone service. We developed the MyWoodlot Watershed mapping tool to help you make your own maps and discover important features on or around your property.
When we travel, we often forget to pause and appreciate what’s right around us. With a sound map, you’ll sit still and translate the sounds around you onto paper.
With a chainsaw, safety equipment, and a log, you can make yourself a rustic resting spot even deep in your woodlot.
Nature can move slowly, but with time lapse photos and videos, you can speed up the movements of clouds, sunsets, and blooming flowers to just a few seconds.
If you cut down a tree in your yard, getting rid of the stump can be a real pain. Instead of grinding it up, this project repurposes that stump into a small flowerbed.
Have a leftover tree stump from an old yard, firewood, or timber harvest tree? Put it to use by making a rustic end table.
Nature meets technology with this simple build that can turn a cellphone charger into a woodsy work of art.
Create your own nature-themed fabrics for a variety of sewing projects using this kid-friendly technique.
Functional and beautiful, you can create a hanging mobile to use as decoration or even as an herb-drying rack.
Bring the outdoors inside any time of year with this simple, decorative craft that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike.
Which plants on your woodlot most catch your eye? Create a list and take pictures of the flowers, bushes, or trees you enjoy the most. You can encourage, showcase, and add more of these plants over time.
Like to draw? Like to paint? Try doing them outside! Painting or drawing outside, also known as “plein air” art, can improve your nature observation skills and deepen your connection with the land.
Light painting is night photography with a twist. It involves moving a light source like a flashlight or glowstick during a long-exposure photo to light up a dark subject or create dazzling designs.
One advantage to owning a woodlot is that you have a chance for really dark nights without city lights to interfere with the stars. Use that darkness to get beautiful “astrophotography” shots of the moon, stars, and Milky Way galaxy.
Trees possess beauty that is sometimes obscured by nature itself. Pruning dead limbs and sculpting a form will enhance a tree's natural beauty and health.
Winter landscape photography can be a challenge on you and your camera, so review this advice from the pros before you head out in the cold.
Your woodlot is more than a retreat from the fast-paced modern world. It's also an escape from the bight city lights that obscure the heavens. Pick a clear, moonless night and enjoy the show.
Birds can be some of the hardest nature subjects to photograph. They’re small, fast, and fly away when you approach. With practice and these tips, you can take great bird photos even if you don’t have a gigantic lens.
You can see a lot from your trails, but sometimes the best places are stumbled upon by accident. Get off the beaten path and explore your woodlot with the help of a map, compass, GPS unit, or smart phone.