Forestland Transfer Initiative
Forestland Transfer Planning
Vermont’s forested landscape is vital to the ecological health and economy of the state. Most of this forestland is in private ownership, valued as financial asset or family legacy. Without careful planning, family forests are at risk of subdivision or development when they change hands. Though a new Forestland Transfer Planning initiative, EMC helps landowners make a plan for the future ownership of their land and stewardship of Vermont’s vital natural heritage.
Forests provide numerous economic, ecological and community benefits to Vermonters. In addition to offering firewood for heating, building materials, and opportunities for hunting and recreation, forests sustain vital ecosystems, provide clean air and water, and contribute to biological diversity as well as flood and climate resilience.
Forests are also often an important family asset, with great sentimental and financial value. Landowners who have carefully managed their land for uses such as sugaring, timber, hunting or wildlife habitat often face many questions about how to pass the land on to the next generation in a way that sustains these uses and achieves other essential financial planning goals.
In partnership with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s Farm and Forest Viability Program, EMC provides forestland transfer planning services to eligible forestland owners who are ready to plan for the future ownership and stewardship of their land. This assistance is free to landowners who meet VHCB’s eligibility requirements. As skilled facilitators and mediators, EMC staff supports landowners and their families navigate often challenging conversations about diverse interests and values to develop a shared vision for the future of their land. The transfer planning process will help identify and address important financial, legal and forest resource questions and create a plan for the forest that takes care of the land, and the family.
Stakeholder Outreach Process
The EMC and the NRB formed a steering committee comprised of leaders who represent a variety of constituencies with an active stake in the Act 250 program: applicants, consultants, attorneys, economic development organizations, housing organizations, municipalities, District Coordinators and Commissioners, environmental advocates, and state agencies. In addition to the steering committee, the EMC will be meeting with interest-based focus groups comprised of leaders in each of the sectors listed above. The steering committee members will serve as liaisons with each stakeholder interest group by relaying feedback from their respective interest groups back to the steering committee. The EMC will work with the steering committee in an effort to reach consensus on a series of recommendations to update Act 250.
Once the steering committee develops recommendations, the EMC will facilitate two public meetings to seek feedback from the general public. The date for these meetings will be publicized on the NRB and EMC websites as well as through the media. The steering committee and the NRB will review and discuss the feedback from the public and determine whether to modify the recommendations. The NRB’s report to the Legislature is due December 31, 2023.
Current Project Activities
The EMC and NRB launched the project on June 27, 2023, by meeting with the District Coordinators and District Commissioners followed by the first meeting with the steering committee. During these meetings, the facilitation team provided background information about the project and began initial discussions about Act 250 governance. In July we will facilitate the second meeting with the steering committee and begin meeting with each interest-based stakeholder focus group.