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Forestry Program Offers Major Tax Savings for Property Owners

Sept. 19, 2007 — Landowners with three acres of forest or more can save up to 95 percent on their real property taxes by signing up with the Agriculture Department's Forest Stewardship Plan, an official said Wednesday.
"The intent is to keep land in forest," said Marilyn S. Chakroff, forest stewardship coordinator, at a meeting at the Cruz Bay Realty office.
The meeting, hosted by the Coral Bay Community Council and attended by five people, was originally set to take place at the Nazareth Lutheran Church hall, but no one could be found to unlock the door.
The main goal of the program is to prevent erosion by slowing runoff into the ocean, Chakroff said. Landowners with less than three contiguous acres are eligible if their total acreage meets the three-acre minimum. Adjacent landowners with less than three acres each can join together to meet the three-acre minimum, as long as they agree to work together, she said.
"And if they all have the same objectives," Chakroff said. The program is also used by homeowners' associations that own acreage.
While some people opt to leave the forest as it is, others put in nature trails, develop fruit orchards or embark on similar projects, she said.
"It depends on the landowner," Chakroff said.
A home site is allowed on the property. Participants are not guaranteed a 95-percent reduction in property taxes because the amount is determined by the tax assessor, Chakroff said.
"It tends to be at least 50 percent," she said.
Currently 23 landowners on St. Croix and two on St. John participate in the program. Two Forest Stewardship Plans for St. Thomas await approval, with one ready for Chakroff to do the paperwork. Landowners must apply through her office. Eight people are on the waiting list, and Chakroff can do about six plans a year.
The Agriculture Department will give away one free tree per family from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 28 in recognition of Arbor Day, either at the Battery or the area adjacent to the Tourism Department office. Both are in Cruz Bay. The final location has not been set.
Trees will include mamey apple, bay rum and wild cinnamon, among many others. They were grown from seed on St. Croix, Chakroff said.
For more information, call Chakroff at 778-0997 or 778-0998, ext. 256.
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Sept. 19, 2007 -- Landowners with three acres of forest or more can save up to 95 percent on their real property taxes by signing up with the Agriculture Department's Forest Stewardship Plan, an official said Wednesday.
"The intent is to keep land in forest," said Marilyn S. Chakroff, forest stewardship coordinator, at a meeting at the Cruz Bay Realty office.
The meeting, hosted by the Coral Bay Community Council and attended by five people, was originally set to take place at the Nazareth Lutheran Church hall, but no one could be found to unlock the door.
The main goal of the program is to prevent erosion by slowing runoff into the ocean, Chakroff said. Landowners with less than three contiguous acres are eligible if their total acreage meets the three-acre minimum. Adjacent landowners with less than three acres each can join together to meet the three-acre minimum, as long as they agree to work together, she said.
"And if they all have the same objectives," Chakroff said. The program is also used by homeowners' associations that own acreage.
While some people opt to leave the forest as it is, others put in nature trails, develop fruit orchards or embark on similar projects, she said.
"It depends on the landowner," Chakroff said.
A home site is allowed on the property. Participants are not guaranteed a 95-percent reduction in property taxes because the amount is determined by the tax assessor, Chakroff said.
"It tends to be at least 50 percent," she said.
Currently 23 landowners on St. Croix and two on St. John participate in the program. Two Forest Stewardship Plans for St. Thomas await approval, with one ready for Chakroff to do the paperwork. Landowners must apply through her office. Eight people are on the waiting list, and Chakroff can do about six plans a year.
The Agriculture Department will give away one free tree per family from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 28 in recognition of Arbor Day, either at the Battery or the area adjacent to the Tourism Department office. Both are in Cruz Bay. The final location has not been set.
Trees will include mamey apple, bay rum and wild cinnamon, among many others. They were grown from seed on St. Croix, Chakroff said.
For more information, call Chakroff at 778-0997 or 778-0998, ext. 256.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.