Keeping Maine’s Forests, a sponsored program of Maine TREE has received grant funding from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund to produce A User’s Guide to Maine’s Tree Growth Tax Law. The intended audience for the Guide is landowners, town assessors and municipal officials, realtors, loggers and foresters who are key stakeholder groups that will directly benefit from the project. They will benefit from the Guide by understanding the purpose of the Tree Growth Tax Law and the proper interpretation of its language, understanding alternatives to the Tree Growth Tax Program, addressing commonly asked questions about the program, and an increased appreciation of the law by keeping forests as forests.
The Guide will serve as a response to the recommendation from the Review of the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law: Report to the One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Legislature Committee on Taxation. The goal will be to help forest landowners make decisions about the management and future of their land, find assistance, and understand the costs and benefits of their options. Assessors, realtors, foresters, and loggers will receive clear guidance on how best to serve their clients when addressing land in, or potentially enrolled in, the Tree Growth Tax program. Municipal officials will understand the long-term benefits of the tax program and how it should be implemented.
The Guide will describe the Tree Growth Tax Law as it is today in laypersons’ language and address common interpretation and implementation questions. The Tree Growth program has been in effect in Maine since 1971, and today covers roughly 11.2 million acres (3.7 million acres in the organized towns, 7.5 million in the unorganized territories). With over half of the state’s land area enrolled in the Tree Growth program, it is easy to understand how important it is to the conservation of the many values that rely on forests: wildlife habitat, recreational access, ecological integrity, carbon sequestration, and clean water and air.
Maine TREE is fortunate to have partners from several organizations that will assist in drafting the Guide and advising on outreach to stakeholders and its contents. Maine Woodland Owners, one of the most engaged organizations in Maine on the tree growth tax law, will lead the Guide’s text development. Other advising partners include the Maine Forest Service, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Forest Products Council, Maine Farm Bureau, and the Association of Consulting Foresters.