Magazine article American Forests


Magazine article American Forests


Article excerpt


editor: As a family forest owner in California, I read the Winter 2000 issue with great interest. But I wonder about the considerable amount of whining in Jane Braxton Little's article ("Family Forests: Loving Care, Heavy Burdens").

In California the Non-industrial Timber Management Plan offers significant relief for small forest landowners (fewer than 2,500 acres). A few years ago the legislature created an option for small forest landowners to receive a lifetime permit in exchange for a commitment to harvest sustainably. Now hundreds of NTMPs are in place, including my own. Little and the Doerksens can learn more from the California Forest Practice Rules or the department of forestry. Things aren't so bad if you look for solutions.

John Gaffin

via e-mail

editor: In "Family Forests: Loving Care, Heavy Burdens," I was mentioned for my participation in the Forest Stewardship Project's Volunteer Initiative Project in Pennsylvania.

As usual, the article is slanted toward larger forest landowners. Here, 500,000 Pennsylvania Forestry Association members own on average about 25 acres. The median acreage is about 10. Similar figures prevail throughout the 20 northeastern states, where more than 40 percent of the 9.9 million members live.

The problems emphasized in Little's article do not apply to most of these people. Most small forestland owners are unaware of these concerns and do not know the importance of sustainability, much less how to go about achieving it. Education is necessary for them to apply Best Management Practices and support sustainability in all forests.

Also, Little writes that the Doerksens own a 122-acre forest. If so, how is it possible that their taxes were reduced "by $600,000 a year"? High property taxes on forestland can be reduced with conservation easements, if you can get local assessors to agree the land has less market value.

John G. Buzzell

State College, Pennsylvania

editor's note: Jim Doerksen says their conservation easement reduced the property's assessed value by $600,000. That reduced their taxes by 25 to 30 percent--or as much as $180,000.


editor: Lester DeCoster's "Leaving a Forest Legacy" (Winter 2000) misrepresented the facts. Fairfax County's Department of Public Works and Environmental Services cited the Reston Association for violations of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance because of the actions the article described.

The ordinance is recognized as one of the nation's foremost laws protecting the environment. As homeowner members of the Reston Association, we cannot, and will not, brush aside that Association staff violated this most important natural preservation law. The statement "Some people hired a lawyer" is absolutely incorrect! No lawyer was hired and no lawyer was involved.

DeCoster observed that "upset people" railed against the ugly machinery used in the construction. Rightfully so. Heavy machinery has no place in an environmentally sensitive area. The "ruckus in Reston" as described is a superb example of why homeowners must not assume that a homeowner's association interprets its directives correctly. One of the Association's primary responsibilities is to protect natural areas. Instead, it violated the law. That fact is chilling to Reston homeowners, who pride themselves on living in a community sensitive to environmental issues.

The intent of any forest legacy should be viewed with common sense: The forest itself is the legacy. …

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