The proposed changes* to the Managed Forest Law (MFL), if passed as is (unlikely), would offer landowners new tools, higher taxes for new participants, and greater flexibility. Below I describe the likely effects for both existing and new/renewing participants of the proposed changes. PLEASE RECALL THAT THESE HAVE YET TO PASS–just felt I needed to say that. Similar effects on BOTH existing and new/renewing landowners
- LEASING: Leasing would be permitted for recreational activities to hunting, fishing, hiking, sightseeing, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and staying in cabins
- BOARD OF REVIEW: Landowners could request of a review of DNR decisions related to “sound forestry practices” (e.g., timber harvesting) before a panel that includes landowner representation; Does not forfeit legal recourse through contested case hearing as currently allowed
- GROUP ENROLLMENTS: Unclear; Substantial deference is given to the administrative rules process to set group enrollment eligibility; Statutorily, landowners are to have more flexibility in management planning; Presumed that all MFL participants (i.e., current, new, renewing) would be eligible, although that is not certain
- ANNUAL ALLOWABLE CUT: Would apply if part of “Group enrollment”
- FOREST ENTERPRISE AREAS: Unclear; Substantial deference is given to the administrative rules process to create forest enterprise area rules and application process; MFL enrollments are the basis for local aid payments that support sustainable forestry and forest-based economic development; As conceived, enterprise area could offer incentives to landowners.
Primary effect on NEW/RENEWING landowners
- TAXATION: Open acreage fee remains the same; Subject to new closed acreage fees, which is the greater of either (a) current method or (b) 25% of the actual taxes that would apply to the parcel based on current assessments; Under this provision, most new and renewing landowners would pay more; Comparisons would occur annually; Current MFL enrollees would continue under their present closed fee schedule
Primary effect on EXISTING landowners
- ADDITION TO EXISTING ORDERS: Allows for < 10 acre additions to existing MFL entry with only the addition subject to new MFL open and closed rates; may affect new/renewing landowners at some point in the future if they seek to add additional acreage
If folks have other thoughts on the effects, please leave a comment. I hope to formalize the above into a more comprehensive Forestry Fact in August, so suggestions are welcome.
* Details of each proposed change can be found here.