This is an update from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources about private forest land issues. We hope that this information will help you manage, protect and enjoy your forest.
Property Tax Programs for Forest Landowners
The Commercial Forest Program and the Qualified Forest Program provide lower property taxes for private forest landowners who actively manage their forest. Both programs require that landowners obtain a forest management plan and follow its recommendations in exchange for the reduced property taxes. The voluntary Forest Stewardship Program helps landowners develop a Forest Stewardship Plan that meets the requirements of both tax programs, and landowners must comply with their Forest Stewardship Plan when enrolled in either property tax program.
The Commercial Forest Program provides property tax breaks for landowners who are managing at least 40 acres for commercial timber production. Land enrolled in the program does not have an assessed value, and landowners pay a specific tax rate, currently set at $1.25 per acre. The Commercial Forest Program requires public access by foot onto your land for hunting, fishing and trapping. The application deadline is April 1 for tax benefits in the following year. The Commercial Forest Program is administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Application forms and more information are available on the Commercial Forest Program website.
The Qualified Forest Program provides property tax breaks for landowners who are actively managing forests between 20 and 640 acres. The Qualified Forest Program does not require public access onto your land. Landowners can avoid up to 18 mills of local millage taxes, although there is a 2 mill equivalent annual fee to administer the program. Sept. 1 is the application deadline for tax benefits in the following year. The Qualified Forest Program is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Application forms and more information are available on the Qualified Forest Program website.
From the Landowners
Rick and Kim Heuvelman, along with Rick’s brother Randy, own a 160-acre forest in Newaygo County. They bought 80 acres 11 years ago and added another 80 acres three years ago. While they have been actively managing land on their own, they decided some professional help was in order. Click here to read more about the Heuvelmans’ experience with the Forest Stewardship and Qualified Forest programs.
Did you know that 2.2 million acres of private forest land are enrolled in the Commercial Forest Program and another 300,000 acres are enrolled in the Qualified Forest Program? The private and public forests in Michigan support rural economies, allow access for recreation and hunting, produce clean air and water, and provide many other economic and ecosystem services.
- Aug. 14-15: Annual meeting of the Michigan Forest Association in Munising
- Sept. 1: Deadline to apply for the Qualified Forest property tax program
- Sept. 24-26: “Forestry Connections” conference for foresters and landowners in Bay City
To learn more about the programs available to assist private forest landowners, or to find the DNR service forester in your area, go to www.michigan.gov/privateforestland.