Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Q. My husband and I made an offer on a house we liked and then found out that most of the property is in Forest Stewardship.

We figured this meant we could never cut the forest and on eof the most appealing things about the property is that we would get a view if we cut a few of the trees. We are also worried about re-sale value. I thought we would ask your opinion on this.

The County has several different open space programs that reduce your taxes significantly in return for keeping part of your land forested. The landowner can do his own plan or hire a licensed forester to do it. Most stewardship plans include cutting some trees while encouraging the concept of managed forestry. This approach enhances the value of the forest both for habitat and commercial value of the lumber.

A new owner can usually modify the plan. It’s also a good idea to take the excellent stewardship class sponsored by the County so that you understand the program. You might also contact the Forest Stewards, a local non-profit group who can advise you.

Certainly thinning the forest to open up a view would be allowed within the Stewardship Plan as long as the trees are not in a sensitive area. You could make that a condition of the sale and then speak to the County Office of Open Space about it before you close on the sale.

As for re-sale value, I can speak from my own experience. I’ve sold several properties that are in the various open space programs. In every case they were valued higher, not lower, by purchasers. Saving on taxes while you enjoy a beautiful property is very appealing.