In June of 2013, the passage of Public Acts 42 through 50 has changed the requirements and administration of the previously held Qualified Forest Program (2006). The purpose of the Qualified Forest Program (QFP) is to encourage private forestland owners to manage their land in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable manner. Landowners receive an exemption from local school operating taxes and/or exemptions from the uncapping of the taxable value of the property in the event of a change in ownership. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will play a major role in the administration of this program, along with the county conservation districts.
The requirements of the Qualified Forest Program are that the land must be a minimum of 20 acres, capable of producing forest products, and have a forest management plan written by a qualified forester. Properties meeting these requirements will be exempt from their school operating millage.
For more information on entering this progam, contact your conservation district forester. 989-673-8174 x 134
OR go to the Qualified Forest Program website here.
Steps for Enrolling in the Qualified Forest Program
If you are interested in enrolling your property in the Qualified Forest Program, you will likely follow these steps:
- • the forester will conduct an initial site visit to (a) verify your property's eligibility for the program, and (b) write a summary of the property in order to find a Qualified Forester who can write a management plan for you
- • about two weeks after you request a referral, you can expect to receive a list of Qualified Foresters who have expressed an interest in working with you
2) Contact the Qualified Foresters, and choose one to write a plan. (Please be advised that the Qualified Foresters are private-sector contractors who charge for plan writing. Be sure to ask your forester about cost-share programs!)
3) Using the completed plan, fill out the QFP application forms available at www.michigan.gov/qfp. Note that there are two forms to fill out: the application and the practice schedule. The practice schedule must include any timber harvesting mentioned in your plan.
4) Mail your forms, a copy of the management plan, supporting documents, and $50 to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) in Lansing. They have 90 days to respond to you, during which time they will review your management plan and tax documents, and ask your local Conservation District to go out to your property and verify that you have enough forest cover to qualify for the program. If you are approved, you will receive an affidavit.
5) Take the affidavit from MDARD to your local register of deeds, and record it. Signed copies should go to your local assessor and MDARD. The letter accompanying the affidavit will contain instructions on proper filing and notification, so be sure to read it carefully.
6) Follow your management plan! Make sure to keep MDARD informed of all management activities to prove that you are following the management schedule in the plan. (This is important, as failure to comply with the plan may result in loss of tax exemption and assessment of back taxes.)