Ecosystem Services in Working Lands: US Northeast

• Delaware has codified certain property tax exemptions through the Commercial Forest Plantation Act (chapter 26, “Commercial Forest Plantations”, title 3), which gives landowners a property tax exemption for forests that are managed for timber production. As with the program in New Hampshire, in order to qualify for this 30-year exemption, landowners must have at least 10 contiguous forested acres and must follow a forest management plan approved by the Delaware Forest Service. • In Massachusetts, there is also the Current Use Tax Program, which gives property tax breaks to landowners willing to commit to keeping some or all of their land undeveloped for a specified period of time.

Certificates of compliance also ensure that sustainable harvesting practices are undertaken on private land.

• The Forest Stewardship Council has a number of programs, including the Group Certification, Family Forest Program, Forest Management Standards, and the Controlled Wood Standard, which certify sustainable forest stewardship and harvest practices in the U.S. Northeast. The Forest Management Certification for Small Lands is a similar program offered by the American Forest Foundation that functions nationally. The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) provides third-party certification of small family-owned forestland through an internationally recognized process that is endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). To be certified, family forest owners must meet the ATFS Standards of Sustainability, which ensure that landowners are protecting and improving clean water, wildlife habitat, and more. In Massachusetts, the Department of Conservation Resources’s (DCR’s) Forest Stewardship Green Certification program, also referred to as Forest Certification, is a similar process whereby a third-party independent forest experts conduct audits of forestry sites and review management plans and procedures to assess if the forestry is of a high quality that meets certification standards.

Technical assistance and grant funding programs were also prominent in the working forest and woodlands category.

• In the Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) from the U.S. Forest Service, the USFS works in partnership with state forestry agencies, Cooperative Extension, and conservation districts to connect private landowners with the information and tools they need to manage their forests and woodlands.

• Watershed Agricultural Council’s (WAC’s) Harvests for Habitat program operates in New York to improve bird habitat and forest management.

• New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Small Grants program helps landowners who own a minimum of 25 contiguous acres to restore or enhance habitat for wildlife with funding available for the creation and/or maintenance of wildlife habitat on the property. Under this program, a variety of projects may qualify for funding, including brush clearing or mowing to maintain grasslands and shrublands, the release of old apple trees, and maintenance of woodland openings.

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