LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher and Sen. Tom Casperson that makes changes to Michigan’s Commercial Forest (CF) program and the Qualified Forest (QF) program was signed into law by the governor on Tuesday.
“Allowing forestland owners to transfer from the Commercial Forest program to the Qualified Forest program without paying the penalty will help ensure that the private forestland is still actively managed and harvested for timber,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This will be beneficial to local units of government and the state, which will receive more in tax revenue for lands transferred from the Qualified Forest program to the Commercial Forest program.”
In 2013, a legislative package was enacted that made substantial changes to the QF program. It also allowed landowners enrolled in the CF program to transition to the QF program without paying the penalty outlined in statute. The allowance for that penalty-free transition ended a year ago, which resulted in landowners contacting Booher and Casperson asking for the transition period to be extended.
“Since the last legislation was enacted, I have heard from many property owners who are pleased with the Qualified Forest program,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “For the most part, this is a prime example of how state departments can work effectively with the citizens when they choose to. I appreciate the efforts of all involved to better manage private non-industrial forestland.”
Senate Bills 651, 652, and 653 sought to address the issue by:
- Inserting a deadline of five years (2021) for allowing a CF landowner to transfer to the QF program with no penalty, but stipulating that transfers can only happen without the penalty if the land is enrolled in CF by Sept. 1, 2016 and is owned by the same landowner as of the same date;
- Developing a Transitional QF program to allow for a transition to present day taxable values over a 5-year window when CF land is transferred to the QF program; and
- Limiting the number of acres that can be transferred to 160 acres per landowner per township.