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UVA Reserve Forestland

The Governor signed H.697 into law – now Act 146. Act 146 changes Vermont’s Use Value Appraisal (UVA) Program by adding a subcategory to Managed Forestland called ‘Reserve Forestland.’ This change to UVA values and accelerates the development of old forest conditions in a pattern and at a scale that we would benefit from and are sorely lacking on our landscape, and it does so in a meaningful but conservative way that preserves working lands as the primary focus of the Managed Forestland category of the UVA program. Below is an overview of the law.

What was the law that passed?

  • Act 146 creates a new enrollment subcategory in the Managed Forestland category called Reserve Forestland, with enrollments in the subcategory beginning July 1, 2023. The act required development of a report defining the program standards.  This report was issued on December 30, 2022 and is available here

  • Reserve Forestland focuses on managing for old forest functions and values.

  • To be enrolled, parcels must meet specific eligibility requirements based on how much significant and sensitive conditions exists on the parcel, emphasizing locations with barriers to active forest management. 

  • Once a parcel demonstrates eligibility, any of the forestland acres may be enrolled as Reserve Forestland.    

  • It is estimated that approximately 15% of UVA eligible parcels (including currently enrolled parcels) would also be eligible for enrollment in this subcategory.

What parcels are eligible for the Reserve Forestland subcategory?

  • To be eligible, parcels must be composed of a certain percentage of significant and sensitive conditions based on the size of the parcel.

  • Significant and sensitive conditions will be defined by the Commissioner of the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. Though they aren’t finalized, they will generally consist of Ecologically Significant Treatment Areas (ESTAs), steep slopes ≥35%, site IV lands, and special places and sensitive sites.

  • Eligibility Thresholds:

    • Parcels < 100 acres: 50% or more of the enrolled parcel acres need to be composed of significant and sensitive conditions, per program standards.

    • Parcels ≥ 100 acres: 30% or more of the enrolled parcel acres need to be composed of significant and sensitive conditions, per program standards.

When can landowners enroll?

  • The new subcategory will not go into effect until July 1, 2023.

  • Landowners will not be able to submit applications for enrollment of land in this new category until July 1, 2023.   

  • Landowners with eligible parcels will be able to amend their forest management plan for enrollment of Reserve Forestland after July 1, 2023.

What are the management requirements?

  • Reserve Forestland is forested land managed with the primary purpose of accrual and protection of old forest functions, values, and associated characteristics. Management may include active or passive management, inclusive of the range of silvicultural strategies when consistent with all other standards. Reserve Forestland is not a “do nothing” enrollment option. Required restorative strategies may include invasive plant control and restoration of hydrologic function or others. Where restorative management for old forest values and functions forest is not required, passive management will be eligible. Additionally, the management planning process will be somewhat involved, requiring documentation of ESTAs and other features to establish eligibility and to demonstrate contributions and progress towards old forest values and functions on land enrolled as Reserve Forestland.

What resources are available to support enrollment and management for old forest functions?

How will the impact of this subcategory be evaluated?

  • The law requires reports to be produced to track progress. Property Valuation and Review (PVR) produces an annual report that will now be required to include how enrollment of Managed Forestland changes with respect to status of enrollment of Reserve Forestland or Ecologically Significant Treatment Areas.

  • The law also requires the development of a comprehensive report in 2026 that evaluates contributions of the category to old forest, impacts to working lands enrollments, and more.

For additional information about Reserve Forestland please contact your county forester.