Department of Environmental Protection

New Jersey Forest Service

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Private Lands Management in New Jersey

Whether your woods are 6 acres or sixty, it's an integral part of the state-wide landscape. And by doing your part to look after the land, the benefits will be appreciated by your family, and native plants and wildlife alike.

Whether you want to maintain wildlife habitat, promote biodiversity, prevent wildfires, produce firewood, or just create an enjoyable place to escape, we can help.

Just getting started?
Download your free copy of My Healthly Woods here (30 MB). This 84-page full-color book was written for landowners just like you. We will also keep you updated on the programs and resources to help create a place for wildlife, recreation, and a beautiful retreat for you and your family to enjoy.

Forest Adaptation Guide for managing your property.

Programs for Landowners

Managing your forest may seem like a daunting task.

Your woods is a complex system that requires active planning and management to continuously provide benefits. Good management increases water and soil protection, wildlife habitats, windbreaks, aesthetics, as well as forest products. A proactive plan also reduces negative impacts such as hazard trees and insect infestations and outbreaks of disease.

Luckily, there are professionals available to assist you. Management not only yields a healthier, more productive stand of trees, but also may give you money back. A forester from NJ State Forest Service will meet once with any New Jersey landowner to discuss forest stewardship, explain cost share assistance, and recommend one or more of the following programs:

Purpose Among the many benefits of participation in this program are the availability of both technical and financial management assistance; environmentally responsible management of New Jersey’s forest resources; active involvement in forest management; public recognition as a steward of the land; and the personal satisfaction of managing forest resources for present and future generations.
Description Woodland owners can be eligible for reduced property taxes if they follow a state-approved forestry plan.
Practices Landowner must follow practices required by an approved forest management plan written by a consulting forester.
Eligibility Landowner must have a minimum of five forested acres.
Contract Landowners are asked to maintain cost-shared funded practices for 10 years. In addition, it is agreed that the 10-year forest stewardship management plan be implemented to the best of the landowner’s ability.
Contact Regional New Jersey Forest Service Office
Purpose The Farmland Assessment Act of 1964, amended in 1986, allows woodland owners to develop and implement a state-approved forest management plan to qualify for reduced property taxation.
Description Woodland owners can be eligible for reduced property taxes if they follow a state-approved woodland management or forest stewardship plan.
Practices Reforestation, timber stand improvement, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, fire hazard reduction, invasive species control, watershed protection, and wetland restoration all may be eligible.
Eligibility For woodland the land must have been actively devoted to forestry, agricultural or horticultural use for the two successive years immediately preceding the tax year for which farmland assessment is requested. The area must be at least five acres in size. Annual gross sales of forestry products —in addition to any payments received under a soil conservation program—must average at least $500 plus an additional $.50 per woodland acre for each acre over five, or there must be clear evidence of anticipated yearly gross sales and such payments amounting to at least your minimum gross sales requirement.
Contact Your Municipal Tax Assessor

Visit the New Jersey Forest Fire Service's website for information regarding prescribed burning on your land.

Purpose Forest Legacy Program identifies and protects environmentally important private forestland threatened by conversion to non-forest.
Incentives A private forest landowner may negotiate the sale of selected interests in their forestland, or the sale of their forestlands, to the U.S. Forest Service. Preferably, the federal government would purchase a private forest landowner’s conservation easement. The land would then remain in the possession of the private landowner.
Eligibility Land must be in a designated Forest Legacy Area.
Contact USDA Forest Service
Purpose EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to landowners to implement management practices on their lands.
Practices Many practices are eligible for cost sharing, including forest management plans, brush removal, and more. Visit the website below for the most recent list of approved practices.
Eligibility All private land in production is eligible, including cropland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest with a forest management plan. Funds are directed to projects that offer the greatest environmental benefits. For woods to qualify for EQIP it must be large enough to be managed as a production unit (a five-acre woodlot is typically not large enough), and participants are subject to the Adjusted Gross Income limits of the Farm Bill.
Contract One- to 10-year contracts. Producers may be eligible for flat rate payments based on average costs of the practices.
Contact USDA/NRCS

Why hire an Approved Forester?
An approved forester can write a management plan for your woods based on your goals and objectives. New Jersey State Forest Service maintains a list of foresters: View the list of Approved Foresters. (Current List: November 10, 2020) Select a forester just as you would select a lawyer, an architect or an engineer. Work with your forester to write your plan. Additionally, New Jersey State Forest Service offers cost-share programs that can help you develop a plan with a forester at lower cost to you. Contact your regional NJ State Forest Service Office for more information.