Vermont Forest Land Current-Use Value Tax Program: Measures of Success
Recognizing that property taxation at the typical “highest and best” use can often be an obstacle to forest management and keeping forest land undeveloped, each state in the Northern Forest region has some form of modified property tax assessment for forest land. Current use taxation of forest land slows the rate of conversion from forest to development by keeping property taxes compatible with the productive capacity of the land.
Vermont’s use value appraisal (UVA) program has been in operation since 1977. To measure its success in achieving its stated goals of improving forest management and protecting the natural ecosystem, NSRC researchers compared properties enrolled in use value appraisal to eligible properties not enrolled. They analyzed 1983 and 1997 forest inventory data provided by the U.S. Forest Service.
On properties that were recently harvested (between 1983 and 1997), forest land in use value appraisal had significantly larger trees and greater volumes per acre prior to harvest. In addition, the grade or quality of white pine on UVA properties was considerably higher than on non-UVA properties. These results are encouraging in that they show measurable benefits to forest management under use value appraisal.