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.
Watershed Qualified Foresters have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in forestry and have received additional training in water quality protection from the New York City Watershed Agricultural Council. Most of these foresters focus on woodlands in southeastern New York.
This advice from Cornell Cooperative Extension discusses what to look for in a forester, including education, experience, and referrals. It also lists questions you can ask a forester before hiring them.
NYS Cooperating Foresters are those listed with the states Department of Environmental Conservation. This statewide list shows where foresters work by numbered regions. Use the link below to determine which region your land is in.
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.
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.