Natural Resources

Fall 2011 Natural Resources Law Class at UB

An Incentive to Conserve Private Forest Lands in New York November 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — npf3 @ 9:12 pm

If anyone owns or plans to own a tract of forest someday, she should know about New York Real Property Law-480-a:  Real Property Tax Exemption for Forest Land.  This is a New York law that promotes the growth of ‘forest crop’ by giving land owners an 80% discount on property taxes.  This law is perfect for landowners who want to keep large tracts of land undeveloped but might otherwise have difficulty paying property taxes. 

The law allows landowners to enroll any amount of forest land over fifty acres in the program.  The landowner works closely with a certified forester and the DEC to develop a management plan for a property.  That plan cultivates a stand of trees to facilitate growth.  This is not a tree farm. A stand of trees has to be naturally occurring.  Sometimes the designed plan requires the land owner to let nature take its course or it may require the landowner to thin parts of the forest to foster growth.  This depends largely on the make up of the forest and what stage of life it’s in.  In old growth forests, the plan often requires the owner to selectively log mature trees to make room for new growth.  The landowner can profit from the sale of the timber but must fork over 6% of the proceeds to the state.

The exemption only pays off in the long term.  Every year a taxpayer files for the exemption it binds them to follow the DEC management plan for ten subsequent years.  Failure to comply with the plan or early cancellation results in hefty penalties. 

This program is an interesting mix of public and private action that attempts to conserve forests across the state.  Its aim is not to conserve for any other purpose than to fully maximize timber production. Any other enjoyment or benefit is simply a by-product. 

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One more story about the ESA and Dams November 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — npf3 @ 9:25 pm

Less than a month ago, Washington saw one of the largest dam breaches in history.  The Condit Dam was located on the White Salmon River, which is a tributary that eventually flows into the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.  It generated enough power to supply 7,000 homes.  The impediment held back around 27 million gallons of water.  When it was breached, it released 1.8 million cubic yards of sediment down the river.

The dam’s removal will restore the White Salmon River watershed back to its free flowing state.  For nearly 100 years the dam has blocked the waterway and prevented the seasonal runs of many native fish.  The runs have declined to the point that the Tule fall Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout are now protected under the Endangered Species Act. 

In 1996, NOAA Fisheries directed the owner, PacifiCore, to allow adequate passage for the threatened species.  The utility couldn’t find a more cost effective alternative to allow the fish passage, so they chose to blow up the dam. 

By next fall the dam will be completely removed.  The salmon should begin to rebound now that they have access to the cold water spawning grounds further upstream.  NOAA plans to monitor the progress.  As an added benefit, the breach opens up five more miles to kayaking and white water rafting enthusiasts.  The river currently supports an estimated 40,000 boaters each year.    

You can find great footage here:

There is no audio of the blast because it sent out a shock wave that would make listeners “bleed from their ears.”

For more information, go to: