Exempts certain old growth forests from private property taxation.
Ayes (6): Martins, Ball, McDonald, Ritchie, Oppenheimer, Klein
Ayes W/R (2): Little, Stewart-Cousins
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the real property tax law, in relation to exempting certain old-growth forests from taxation
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To encourage protection of privately-owned old growth forests in New York.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 - adds a new subparagraph (iii) to paragraph (a) of subdivision 1 of section 480-a of the Real Property Tax Law to provide that an "old growth" tract will be eligible for the exemption under this section provided the management plan for the tract meets certain conditions.
Section 2 - subdivision 1 of 480-a is amended to re-letter paragraph (h) as paragraph (i) and new paragraph (h) defines an "old growth eligible tract" for the purposes of this section.
Section 3 - subdivision 5 of section 480-a is amended to re-letter paragraph (d) as paragraph (e) and new paragraph (d) provides that no cutting of forest crop shall be permitted in any approved old growth forest eligible tract except to protect the old growth forest from invasive species or disease.
Section 4 - subdivision 6 of section 480-a is amended to add a new paragraph (e) to provide that no cutting of forest crop shall be permitted in any approved old growth forest eligible tract except to protect the old growth forest from invasive species or disease.
Section 5 - provides that this act shall take effect January 1, 2013 and shall apply to taxable years beginning on and after such date.
JUSTIFICATION: Although most of the primeval forests that once covered New York State, and indeed the entire Northeast part of our country, were cleared many years ago as settlers first moved west to develop farms and communities, there still remain small vestiges of this original forest tucked away in overlooked corners of our state. Most of these areas remain uncut because the terrain where they are located was so challenging that logging was impracticable and farming impossible.
Over the years, a few owners have continued to leave these woods essentially untouched either through oversight or a desire to protect this unique asset. Old growth forests within public lands across the state were given protection under Chapter 533 of the Laws of 2008. However, the old growth forest in private ownership across the state was not addressed by this legislation. If these forests are allowed to be destroyed, they are probably gone forever, and are certainly not replaceable within our lifetimes, or the lifetimes of our children,
grandchildren and great-grandchildren. New York State has led the nation in the protection of forests, beginning in 1895 with the Constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, and this bill will continue that tradition.
Currently, Real Property Tax Law section 480-a offers property partial property tax exemptions to forest lands under an approved forest management plan that includes forest harvesting. This bill would expand this section to afford this partial tax exemption to old growth forests, as were defined in chapter 533 of the Laws of 2008, with an approved plan of no harvesting except to protect the old growth forest from invasive species or disease. Owners of old growth forests will no longer be required to harvest their forests to receive a partial tax exemption, and this will help and encourage them to preserve these irreplaceable places.
It is important for all New Yorkers that we encourage preservation of the old growth forests that remain so that generations to come can appreciate what existed in our state before the advent of European settlement.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill. RPTL 480-a offers partial real property tax exemptions for managed forest lands; Environmental Conservation Law Article 45 contains definitions of old growth forest and restrictions related to public lands.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to State.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect January 1, 2013 and shall apply to taxable years beginning on and after such date.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3189--A 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 11, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. RANZENHOFER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Local Government -- recommitted to the Committee on Local Government in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the real property tax law, in relation to exempting certain old-growth forests from taxation THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of subdivision 1 of section 480-a of the real property tax law, as amended by chapter 396 of the laws of 2008, is amended and a new subparagraph (iii) is added to read as follows: (ii) participation in a forest certification program (such as Forest Stewardship Council certification, Sustainable Forestry Initiative; American Tree Farm Program, etc.) recognized in the regulations of the department
[.]; OR (III) AS TO AN "OLD-GROWTH" ELIGIBLE TRACT, A PLAN THAT INCLUDES PROVISIONS THAT THE OLD-GROWTH FOREST BE PROTECTED WITH MINIMUM MANAGE- MENT OR DISTURBANCE THAT ONLY CONSIDERS PASSIVE RECREATIONAL OPPORTU- NITIES WITH NO CONSTRUCTION OR COMMERCIAL REMOVAL OF TREES. IN THOSE PROVISIONS, THE PROTECTION OF THE OLD-GROWTH FOREST FROM INVASIVE SPECIES AND DISEASES MAY BE CONSIDERED. S 2. Paragraph (h) of subdivision 1 of section 480-a of the real prop- erty tax law is relettered paragraph (i) and a new paragraph (h) is added to read as follows: (H) "OLD-GROWTH ELIGIBLE TRACT" SHALL MEAN A TRACT THAT CONFORMS WITH THE DEFINITION OF "OLD-GROWTH FOREST" CONTAINED IN SUBDIVISION SIX OF SECTION 45-0105 OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAW.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD04830-04-2 S. 3189--A 2
S 3. Paragraph (d) of subdivision 5 of section 480-a of the real prop- erty tax law is relettered paragraph (e) and a new paragraph (d) is added to read as follows: (D) NO CUTTING OF FOREST CROP SHALL BE PERMITTED IN ANY APPROVED OLD GROWTH ELIGIBLE TRACT EXCEPT TO PROTECT THE OLD GROWTH FOREST FROM INVA- SIVE SPECIES OR DISEASE. S 4. Subdivision 6 of section 480-a of the real property tax law is amended by adding a new paragraph (e) to read as follows: (E) NO CUTTING OF FOREST CROP SHALL BE MANDATED OR PERMITTED IN ANY APPROVED OLD GROWTH ELIGIBLE TRACT EXCEPT TO PROTECT THE OLD GROWTH FOREST FROM INVASIVE SPECIES OR DISEASE. S 5. This act shall take effect January 1, 2013 and shall apply to taxable years beginning on and after such date.