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Woodland Plan Preparation Fees Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the NC Forest Service charge a fee for plan preparation services?

The NC Legislature passed a law in 2014 that requires the NC Forest Service to charge a fee for the creation of certain woodland management plans for forest landowners beginning on July 1st, 2014. The NC Board of Agriculture approved a change to the NCFS plan preparation fee schedule that went into effect on August 1, 2016.

Why do I need a woodland plan?

Your plan is a "road map" to guide you toward the goals you have for your woodland. It describes the condition of your land, outlines needed management activities, and summarizes the results expected from the plan. The plan helps you to leave a legacy for future generations.

A written woodland plan is often required for enrollment and eligibility for present use value (PUV) tax programs, cost-share programs, and forest certification programs such as Tree Farm.

What are the financial and/or environmental benefits from having a woodland plan?

A written plan can provide many financial and environmental benefits to the landowner. An overview of some of the benefits of a woodland plan can be found in North Carolina Forestry Leaflet FM-20, Benefits of a Woodland Plan.

What are the different types of woodland plans that can be prepared for forest landowners?

The NC Forest Service offers several types of plans that can be prepared depending on your objectives. They include the following:

A Forest Management Plan is a detailed plan that provides written prescriptions for specific forestry activities that meet the landowner's objectives. These plans can typically address several management recommendations for many different areas. "Forest Management" Plans are often prepared for the purpose of qualifying the forestland under the forestry present use-value (PUV) program.

A Forest Stewardship Plan is a multiple resource management plan, written by or under the guidance of a natural resource professional, which conforms to the State Forest Stewardship guidelines and standards, and meets the objectives of the owner. This type of comprehensive plan is for landowners that want to manage for wildlife, water quality, recreation, and timber to keep their woods healthy and leave a legacy for future generations.

If prepared properly, a Forest Stewardship Plan can also qualify the landowner for the forestry present use-value (PUV) tax program and the American Tree Farm Program.

A Regeneration Plan is a brief plan written with detailed instructions to complete reforestation on 1 or 2 areas. Plan recommendations may include site preparation, tree planting, and/or natural regeneration. An approved regeneration plan is needed to qualify for cost-share assistance.

A Practice Plan is usually a brief plan written with detailed instructions to complete a particular forestry practice, treatment, or operation (other than regeneration) such as, thinning, prescribed burning, TSI, or other activity. An approved practice plan is needed to qualify for cost-share assistance.

A Pre-Harvest Plan is a detailed written plan prepared to guide a logger, landowner or other involved party through placement of roads, skid trails, log decks, stream crossings and other aspects of a successful harvest, with minimal impact on the soil and water resources of the property.

Are there other plan preparation options available to Landowners?

Yes. A landowner is not obligated to have the NC Forest Service prepare a woodland plan. A list of private consulting foresters that work in your area can be provided at no cost to you. Industry foresters may also be available to assist you as part of their landowner assistance or procurement activities. Be sure to ask about the availability or costs of such programs in your negotiations with any plan preparers.

What are the costs for plan preparation from NCFS?

Our Forest Management plans and Forest Stewardship plans now have a per/acre fee. The total cost for these plans will depend on the size of your woodlands.

Plan type Fee per acre
  • Forest Management Plan
  • Forest Stewardship Plan

NOTE: There are no fees associated with most of the other management plans that the NCFS provides to landowners. This includes Forest Practice plans that provide guidance on practices such as: Site Preparation, Tree Planting, Prescribed Burning, Thinning and Final Harvest. For more information, please contact your local County Forest Ranger.

Can there be other costs that may be associated with a plan?

Yes. Depending on the practices or activities recommended in the plan, there may be future costs associated with activities or services conducted by other contractors or private forestry consultants. Examples may include volume and value appraisals for timber sales, timber marking, boundary line location, site preparation, prescribed burning, and tree planting.

Is the cost of plan preparation a deductable expense for tax purposes?

Yes. The costs of timber management and protection are deductible for woodland held as an investment, but they are deductible only to the extent that such costs exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income (as part of total miscellaneous itemized deductions). Property taxes are also considered deductible.

How often should I update my plan?

Typically a forest management plan should be updated whenever a significant change in forest type or land use occurs, such as a timber sale. Any forest area that has been harvested or thinned recently should be updated with recommendations for reforestation or an updated schedule that plans out future activities. In general, a plan revision should happen every 10-15 years depending on current forest conditions and planned events.

Are there any financial assistance programs to assist landowners with Plan preparation costs?

Yes. Currently a landowner can sign up for financial assistance to develop a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP-106) for a comprehensive forest management plan through the NRCS – Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This CAP-106 Forest Management Plan must be developed by a certified technical service provider (TSP).

What type of services can I get for free?

The NC Forest Service provides many services free of charge that may include one-on-one site visits and certain types of written woodland plans. This assistance can provide landowners with guidance on: forest insect and pest concerns; water quality issues; site preparation and tree planting advice; recommendations on thinning and final harvest; prescribed burning, etc. This legislation mandates that the NC Forest Service only charge fees for the preparation of certain woodland plans (forest management and forest stewardship).

How do I pay for my woodland plan?

You can either send a check or money order to the district office on your invoice or pay online.

I am ready to get started with My woodland plan. How can I get started?

You can request a plan by contacting your county forest ranger’s office. County staff can gather information specific to your request and generate an agreement for plan preparation.

This page updated: Thursday, November 10, 2016 16:01

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