(April 15, 2022) Maryland has a Forest Conservation and Management program in place to encourage landowners to manage their forest land in return for a reduced and/or frozen property tax assessment.
Any owner of five or more contiguous acres of forest land may enter the program. (House sites, crop land and other non-forest open space is not eligible.)
Open land that was recently planted to forest tree seedlings can be included in the program after one growing season. Land used to grow Christmas trees is also eligible if the trees will be cut at harvest.
The program is a legal agreement between the landowner and the Department of Natural Resources and is recorded in the land records of the county in which the property is located.
The landowner agrees to manage their forest land according to a management plan that is prepared for the property. The minimum acreage is five acres and the minimum length of the agreement is 15 years.
The property tax assessment on the forest land in the agreement is generally reduced and frozen at a low agricultural rate.
If the agreement is broken through failure to follow the plan, sale of the property to someone unwilling to assume the responsibility or if the landowner just wants to be out of the program, back taxes will be levied and will be computed back to the beginning of the agreement. The agreement can be amended to increase or decrease acreage and it can be transferred to a buyer if the buyer is willing to assume the responsibilities of the agreement.
There are approximately 1,300 agreements in effect covering approximately 84,000 acres.
– Lauren Bunting is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams Realty of Delmarva in Ocean City.