Q&A: Are land management plans required in Maine?

Photo by Julia Bayly

Hello. My husband and I have been looking for land in Maine to retire and live off the land on. I wanted to ask you about the land management plan. Is that something everyone has to do or only certain areas/type of land? — Retiring in Maine

Dear Retiring in Maine:

A land management plan like the one I have is not required in Maine but can be helpful if — like me — you want to be a good land steward but are unsure how to proceed.

Having a plan allows you to enroll in Maine’s “tree growth management” program. This program means my timberland is valued/assessed for taxes based on its ability to grow trees, not the current value of property or timber. That value-based on tree growing ability is set by the state and is often far less than a municipal valuation. This can represent a major property tax savings. A downside, however, is if and when I sell the land I need to either take it out of tree growth (and I believe there is a financial penalty) or assure a future owner will keep it in. I can take it out anytime, but again, there would be a financial penalty.

The official title for what I have is A Maine WoodWISE Forest Management Plan that was completed in 2009. It’s through the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and is now known as a Woodland Resource Action Plan (WRAP). Here is a link to the official site with more information:

I worked with a licensed forester to establish priorities and goals for land use on my farm. She then spent several days surveying every inch of my property and then developed a time table and plans for specific ecosystems/habitats on my farm. Ex – my main goal is wildlife management so different areas of the farm are on different schedules for tree thinning, mowing, planting, etc. Some I must work on every five years, others not at all. Along with this plan came a great map that outlines the farm and these habitat areas on it. Also a detailed survey of the trees and other flora growing here.

Overall, I am very happy to have this plan and would be happy to speak with it in more detail with you. I hope to welcome you to northern Maine someday!

Sincerely, Julia Bayly

Read Julia’s column Rusty Metal Farm every Monday on Hello Homestead.

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