and Forest Fragmentation Roundtable
by the Vermont Natural Resources Council
Participants: John Austin, Virginia Barlow, Put Blodgett, Farley Brown,
Bob Burt, Marta Ceroni, Cindy Cook (Facilitator), Paul
Costello, Robert DeGeus, Ed Delhagen, Jamey
Fidel, Erhard Frost, George Gay, Leo Laferriere, Lynn Levine, Stephen
Long, Mark Lorenzo, Carl Powden, Mike Rainville, John
Roe, Jim Shallow, Eric Sorenson, Brain Stone, Andy Whitman, and Jonathan Wood
Observers: Bob Hawk, Katie Maneras, Lucy Donaghy,
Johanna Miller, Kenneth ____
and Overview of the Roundtable
Jamey Fidel, Forest Program Director at VNRC welcomed
participants and thanked them for their commitment to the roundtable
The group reviewed and approved the draft ground rules, and
noted the need for clarity regarding how this group will make decisions and
recommendations. Cindy will circulate a
draft regarding the group’s decision-making process for everyone’s review and
comment, prior to the next meeting.
The group reviewed and revised the Draft Goals for the
Roundtable, and agreed to add the phrase “and forest land loss” at the end of
the bullet beginning “To share information and educate” and to add the
following new bullets:
the terms “fragmentation” and “parcelization”.
the effects of parcelization.
The group agreed that forest fragmentation is a significant
problem, and that participants want to focus their time and energy on
addressing the causes of parcelization and fragmentation and solutions for
curbing their effects in Vermont.
of VNRC’s Forest Conservation Campaign and Goals for the Roundtable
Jamey gave a slide presentation that described Vermont
Natural Resource Council’s Forest Conservation Campaign. A hard copy of the
presentation is available to anybody who would like one.
Some general comments were that there is still a good
percentage of land in Vermont that is owned in large parcel sizes and
presentations on trend information should reflect this. In addition, not all
transactions that involve forestland are necessarily harmful. Some transactions
involve repeat sales of the same land, etc.
John Roe commented that the roundtable should not confuse
urban development trends with parcelization in rural communities and that the
roundtable should define the parcel size that is of concern for discussion
Several participants noted that planning is an important
component of addressing parcelization and fragmentation. Jamey noted that VNRC
is working with planners to develop templates for forestland conservation. VNRC
may convene another roundtable to discuss planning issues later this year or
try to integrate more planners into the roundtable process. Farley noted that it’s important to remember
that different communities have different needs, and face very different
Other comments were that ownership trends and data need to
be updated; general values and causes of forestland development need to
addressed; biomass and energy are related issues and may involve international
policy; and globalization is a contributing factor.
Jonathon thanked VNRC for convening the roundtable, and
noted that the topic is a timely one.
Jamey asked people for feedback regarding the composition of
the roundtable. He noted that he was
trying to create a group that represented a broad range of perspectives, while
at the same time keeping the group size manageable. He emphasized that the roundtable is an open process, and that
anyone is welcome to observe meetings.
Participants made the following suggestions re additions to
Federation of Sportsmen Clubs
Forest Products Association
Forest Products industry – primary manufacturing
land incentives program—Toby Alexander
program - Dave Birdsall
of Roundtable Meeting Themes
Participants raised the following issues as roundtable
meeting themes in response to the question: What’s
the most significant challenge to keeping Vermont’s forest parcels intact?
do we deal with the volume of issues that relate to this problem?
are many challenges and this is a complicated issue. We need to create
unified political support for policy and leverage the collaborative
process of the roundtable.
price of land; VT is beautiful.
are changing in Vermont. There are changes in forestland owners and public
attitudes towards timber harvesting.
is a shrinking constituency of people advocating for the woods as a
priority issue. There is a disconnect between Vermonters and environmental
planning and land use patterns, i.e. “hide the house in the woods”.
issues - population increases, tourism and economic growth. There are
hurdles with language (definitions) surrounding the issue.
price of land; generational shifts in use of land.
differentials. For example, oil is creating a rapid change in the way we
current property tax system encourages land break up. The Current-Use
Program is not adequate. Land taxation system needs to be overhauled,
in demographics, the loss of farms and the "old way" of life.
resource economy as livelihood; need to support forest products industry.
of subdivision trumps ecosystem values.
with the way we value forests – “highest and best use” vs. products and
– how we value land. Timber is viewed as a capital investment vs.
issue presents an opportunity for collaboration as much as it presents a
challenge. Roundtable should focus on driving factors or causes of
parcelization/fragmentation vs. effects of parcelization/fragmentation.
Factors are varied including socioeconomic factors, global and national
policies, and philosophical values – how people relate to land.
economic conditions, not just land ownership issues. Negative trickle down
effect. Primary and secondary manufacturing having problems.
is a gap between local management and regional planning.
property values and the price of land. The "us versus them"
issue – i.e. investors from out of state and the amount of second/vacation
homes in Vermont. Creates issues of fairness and problems in how we use
land prices and the effect on timberland ownership. Woodland owners can
make more selling their land than managing it.
market value of land – “parts are worth more than the whole”
valuation. Also challenges in dialogue and communication on the issue.
Must focus at the local level.
of state money.
ask a great deal of our landscape and very little of ourselves.
are devoid of a spiritual relationship with the land, our focus is on
owning land as a commodity.
- The need
to maintain and create incentives to keep land under private ownership.
This would include maintaining favorable state current use property tax
programs, creating favorable federal tax policy toward private forestland
ownership, particularly allowing for inflation adjustment on original cost
of timber, and also favorable estate tax policy which would foster
forestland being passed on to future generations.
of a working forest landscape requires a working forest products industry
and supporting markets. The decrease in the number of wood workers, lack
of capital investment in wood manufacturing, high worker compensation and
energy costs, and global competition have impacted markets and landowners
options regarding return on investment.
wants to move to the forest!
of the Draft Roundtable Meeting Topics
Participants made the following comments regarding the draft
roundtable should focus on causes, drivers and solutions versus the
effects of parcelization and fragmentation.
should be updated and presented.
roundtable should discuss underlying values affected by parcelization and
risk assessment work involving ecological considerations should be made
available to the roundtable.
roundtable should decide whether to focus on large scale vs. small scale
option is to focus on hot spots (e.g. wildlife corridors)
timber economy needs to be addressed considering both primary and
tools should be made available to the roundtable – what have we
do we deal with the feedback loop between causes and effects?
roundtable should talk about causes and patterns in general and set up a
model to assist in our understanding of these concepts.
roundtable should distinguish between urbanization and parcelization.
roundtable should look at socio-economic trends (e.g. out-of-staters and
effect of state and federal tax policies (e.g. tax deductions for second
home mortgages; capital gains, etc.)
Know –And Don’t Know--About Forest Land Ownership Trends in Vermont
Andy Whitman, of the Manomet Center in Maine gave a
presentation on existing data regarding forest parcelization in New
England. Once VNRC has created a
website for the roundtable, Andy’s presentation will be posted on the website
Bob DeGeus spoke about what we know, what we think we know,
and what we don’t know about forest ownership trends in Vermont.
What We Know
Bob noted that:
has 4,250,000 acres of forested land.
of Vermont Timberland is in private ownership.
1.5 million acres and 13,000 parcels are in the Use Value Appraisal
Program. About 1/3 of all available forestland in Vermont is enrolled in
difficulty of sustaining government programs is increasing; county
foresters are overwhelmed by the number of transactions they see in the
Use Value Appraisal Program.
don’t like change.
and New Hampshire have minimum lot sizes for Current Use of 10 acres.
What We Think We Know
landowners have very different value sets than traditional landowners.
markets for timber products have a strong impact on how forestland is
processing capacity is an issue.
management equates to longer land tenure ship.
What We Don’t Know
people think and the factors that go into people’s forestland management
land and policies work together or in conflict.
societal forces and various government policies interact with each other.
kind of baseline condition to manage from.
to enhance the current land tenure system with out creating new rules.
future of timber markets – where wood products are going.
we want the human environment to look like.
population density triggers a decline in the working landscape.
The July 25 meeting date is problematic, as this is the day
that the new GMNF Supervisor has a meeting with a number of members of the
roundtable. The July meeting may be postponed due to conflicts. Several people indicated that they would
appreciate a more central meeting location for some of the meetings. Jamey will consider people’s input, check
space availability, and e-mail information regarding the next meeting date and
The group agreed to review draft definitions by e-mail,
prior to the next meeting.
Ideas for discussion at the next meeting included:
and social values
what parcel size we are focusing on
4 Tax issues
savings associated with land in current use (Deb Brighton)
4 Develop a
model to conceptualize what’s happening
Butler – Forest Service
Rossmassler re town conservation commissions
4 League of
Cities and Towns for municipal representation