NYFOA Has Issued Qualified Support for DEC's proposed 480a Revisions but Remains Opposed to Proposed Harvest Notification Requirements

Members of the NYFOA Board Executive Committee and the Policy Committee have met with DEC representatives regarding these proposals on at least five occasions over the past two years. The proposals have also been discussed (debated) at regular NYFOA Board meetings, including input furnished by Chapter-designated Board Members. For several years, surveys of forest owners by National Woodland Owners Association have identified property taxes as the single greatest concern of forest owners, and this finding has been confirmed by our Board and our Chapters. Considering that the average woodlot size in NY State is 17 acres, we feel that our highest priority is to see SOME level of tax relief for forest owners who own less than the 50 acre minimum required for 480a. We have presented strong objections to some aspects of the original proposals we saw last year, and the DEC has responded to some of them. After I wrote Commissioner Seggos in October, Director of Lands & Forests Rob Davies requested a conference call to discuss our remaining concerns. During this call, Rob confirmed that plan updates for current 480a enrollees would be increased from 5 to 10 years. We agree that this, together with the elimination of stumpage taxes, is a reasonable tradeoff for the lower assessment reduction after 10 years. Rob also agreed to increase the minimum forested acreage under the proposed 480b from 20% to 50%, which was a major concern for some of our policy committee members.

A followup letter to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos offers our position.

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