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.
For properties with especially high deer numbers and impacts, you can obtain special state permits that allow antlerless deer hunting beyond standard limits.
Different land types can support different numbers of deer. You can find out whether deer are harming your woodlot with this browse assessment.
Invasive plants thrive in the sunlight. Cutting vines that threaten to kill your trees will help keep your woodlands shaded and slow the spread of invasive plants.
Deer are what’s known as a “keystone species,” meaning they have a major impact on the woods. Understanding the changes deer cause to a woodlot is the first step in learning how to live with them.
Moving firewood, say from your woodlot to a campsite, is the #1 way dangerous forest pests spread. State law restricts when and how far you may transport firewood.
If you’re reducing deer populations on your land, you may wind up with more venison than you can use. Donating that venison to a local food bank is a great way to put that meat to good use while improving the health of your woods.
How many deer visit your property? You can find out using this “pellet count” survey method.
Once you know how to spot common and emerging invasive plants, you can head out to your land to try to locate them.
Buying your firewood from a local source and cutting firewood off your woodlot are excellent ways to prevent the spread of insects and disease.
Young trees, both newly planted and naturally growing, will benefit from protection from deer. Deer protection can be as wide-ranging as fencing off an area of your woodlot or as specific as tubing individual trees.
Dying trees don't mean the end of your forest as long as there are baby trees to replace them. Installing a deer fence is a good way to prevent deer from eating the seedlings that will become your future forest.
Even after native plants are established, don’t let your guard down. Keep up your prevention, location, and control efforts to hold invasive plants at bay.
Many invasive plants were brought here intentionally for use in landscaping. One of the best ways to prevent new invasive infestations is to use only native plants in your landscaping. These plants can also be attractive and benefit wildlife like pollinators.
Pull it by hand? Mow it? Spray it? Different invasive plants require different control techniques. Before you put in a ton of work, figure out the best techniques for the plant you’re dealing with.
To locate invasive plants on your land, you first need to know what to look for. It would be overwhelming to learn every invasive plant, so focus on common ones to help you spot these invaders sooner.
Invasive plants are always on the move. Learning to identify these invasives that aren’t common yet—but could be in the near future—will help you locate these plants on your land before they become a problem.
Asian longhorned beetle is an invasive insect that kills many kinds of trees, including maples. Discover how to identify these beetles and the signs they leave behind.
Emerald ash borer is considered the most devastating invasive insect in North American forests. It attacks ash trees. Discover how to identify these dangerous insects and the signs they leave behind.
Hemlock wooly adelgid attacks hemlock trees, which commonly grow on steep slopes near streams. Discover how to identify this insect and the signs they leave behind.
The spotted lanternfly is an emerging invasive insect that can damage many trees and fruit crops. Learn to identify this pest so you’re ready when it reaches your land.
To slow the spread of forest pests, state law restricts when and how logs can be moved from a woodlot to a sawmill. Make sure your logger is up to speed on the latest wood quarantines.
If you just finished your invasive inventory, you may feel overwhelmed with the number of invasive plants on your land. Rather than try to deal with them all at once, focus your efforts to get the best chance of success.
Overabundant deer often contribute to invasive plant spread by eating the native plants. Installing a deer fence to keep deer out of an area where you removed invasives can sometimes be enough to get native plants growing back all on their own.
When dealing with small infestations, mechanical control techniques like hand-pulling, cutting, or brush hogging can be effective. These techniques require more work, especially for long-term control, but they can reduce or eliminate the need for herbicide.
In the long term, the only way to keep invasive plants at bay is to make sure you have healthy native plants growing. If you’ve just controlled invasive plants in an area, planting some natives from a nursery can help them get a jumpstart on resprouting invasives.
If you've lost a lot of trees to an insect infestation, you might be able to salvage some income from them if you contact a forester soon after the trees die.
The invasive insect spotted lanternfly is a new arrival in the northeastern US. Follow these tips to slow its spread and limit the damage it causes not only on your land, but in forests and woods throughout the region.
It is illegal to feed wild deer in New York State. You might think you’re giving them a helping hand by putting out corn, or maybe that if you feed them they’ll leave your plants alone. But in reality, you’re harming both the deer and your plants.
Even small measures can make a big difference in keeping invasives off your land. Try to incorporate these simple steps into daily life on your woodlot.
Treating your ash trees may be a good option if you have a few select trees that you want to save. Treatments can be expensive, so this is more suitable for trees near your home or cabin than in the woods. Contact an arborist to discuss treatment options.
Treating your hemlock trees may be a good option if you have a few select trees that you want to save. Treatments can be expensive, so this is more suitable for trees near your home or cabin than in the woods. Contact an arborist to discuss treatment options.
Spotted lanternfly doesn’t directly kill trees, but it weakens them and makes them more likely to die from other causes. Reducing the insect’s numbers on your land can lower the stress they put on your trees.
For areas overrun with invasive plants, a strange but surprisingly effective technique is to rent goats. The goat farmer sets up portable fencing around the treatment area, and you pay by the day to let goats chomp through the invasives.