The NWOS is the official census of forest owners in the United States. It is aimed at increasing our understanding of woodland owners who are the critical link between forests and society. Summary information from the NWOS is used by people who provide, design, and implement services and policies that affect forest owners including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, including landowner organizations, private service providers, forest industry companies, and academic researchers. On an annual basis, the NWOS contacts forest landowners from across the country to ask them questions about: the forest land they own, their reasons for owing it, how they use it, if and how they manage it, sources of information about their forests, their concerns and issues related to their forests, their intentions for the future of their forests, and their demographics. The main features of the NWOS website are: survey results and publications, frequently asked questions, contact information, copies of the questionnaires used, links to state forestry and other agencies, and the NWOS DASH – an online tool for generating custom tables.
Project Report: Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Reach of the Educational Programs and Technical Assistance Activities of the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Stewardship Program
The U.S. Forest Service, Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) provides technical and educational assistance to non-industrial private forest (NIPF) owners in order to promote good forest stewardship practices. To evaluate this program, a mixed-methods approach was taken, including summarization of existing performance metrics; cataloguing of state forest stewardship activities; National Woodland Owner Survey data analyses; analyses of FSP activities in relation to forest area trends; and focus groups.
FSP reaches many NIPF owners, but these owners represent only a fraction of the NIPF owners. On average, 14,700 new or revised FSP management plans, covering 1.9 million acres, were written per year across the U.S. between 2007 and 2011; the number of plans decreased by 5% and acres covered increased by 14% over this period. Landowner assists, averaging 146,000 per year, decreased by 19% between 2007 and 2011. Landowners educated, averaging 468,000 per year, decreased by 68% between 2007 and 2011. Disregarding double counting and other reporting issues, FSP management plans, landowner assists, and landowner education are annually reaching <1%, 3.3%, and 10.5% of the estimated number of eligible NIPF owners, respectively.
Some characteristics are different between assisted and non-assisted landowners. Assisted landowners are more likely than non-assisted landowners to have commercially harvested timber; improved wildlife habitat; planted trees; reduced wildfire risk; higher annual incomes; and higher levels of education.
Some characteristics are similar between assisted and non-assisted landowners. These groups are similar with respect to future intentions to sell or subdivide land; age; primary residence location; ethnicity; gender; how the land was obtained; and farm ownership.
There were few discernible differences on landowner behavior among the different types of assistance (i.e., plans, advice, or cost-share). Landowners who received any single form of assistance acted nearly the same as those receiving any other single form of assistance. Owners receiving all three types do appear to be managing more intensively.
For those landowners interested in active management, landowner assistance activities (i.e., management plans, advice, or cost share) appear to be helping them manage their forests better and more intensively, but they do not appear to be influencing landowners’ land use decisions (e.g., selling or subdividing) or to be encouraging non-engaged owners to become engaged.
No discernible relationships between FSP activities and forest area trends were detected. No relationships were found in state- or county-level analyses between FSP activities and changes to forest cover. This may have been due to data limitations or FSP not having a large enough impact.
Effect of State & Local Taxes on Family Forests
Project Report: Effects of Federal, State, and Local Tax Policies on Family Forest Owners: Technical Report (PDF)
Appendix I: One Page Summaries: Project Overview, Property Taxes, Income Taxes, Estate Taxes, Project Conclusions (PDF)
Appendix II: Annotated Bibliography of Selected Studies (PDF)
Appendix III: Policy Verification Questionnaire (PDF)
Appendix IV: Family Forest Owner Focus Group Report (PDF)
Appendix V: Family Forest Owner Focus Group Topic Guide (PDF)
Appendix VI: Family Forest Owner Focus Group Screener (PDF)
Yale Forest Forum Review: Tax Policies and Family Forest Owners (PDF)
In the United States, about 35% of the forestland is owned by 10 million family forest owners (Butler 2008). A wide range of policy tools have been adopted to encourage sustainable family forest management, including technical assistance, outreach education, financial incentives, regulations, as well as public ownership. Among these policies and programs, financial incentives, particularly tax incentives, play a prominent role (Kilgore et al. 2007). Research on tax incentives has mostly focused on three particular types of policies and programs: income tax, property tax, and estate tax.
In contrast to the body of literature addressing the financial implications of tax policies, no published studies have analyzed the cumulative impact of tax policies on the decision-making behavior of family forest owners. This suggests a need for an up-to-date, comprehensive understanding of existing tax policies and programs across the country and their impacts on family forest owners.
This project addresses three questions:
1) What is the current landscape of federal, state, and local tax policies affecting family forest owners?
2) What are the impacts of these tax policies on family forest owners’ decisions?
3) What are the strengths and weaknesses of these tax policies?