Our Guiding Principles
Who Are Montana's Family Forest Owners? (some facts):
• Non-Industrial Private Forest Landowners (NIPFLs) are individuals, families, trusts, farmers and ranchers owning forest land in Montana.
• 82,000 Montanans own at least 1 acre of forest land (approximately 3.5 million acres)
• 14,700 Montanans own at least 20 acres of forest land (approximately 3.9 million acres)
• Montana NIPFLs have provided an average of approximately 30% of total annual wood volume harvested from 1993 to 2003. Montana NIPFLs also own thousands of acres of sensitive riparian and open-space lands.
• Less than 1% of owners cite timber production as a primary objective for owning forest land - yet over 52% have timber harvest experience. Many find that harvesting trees is necessary to achieve other non-timber goals—i.e., wildfire protection, habitat for wildlife, etc.
The cost of producing benefits that society receives from NIPF lands should not be borne entirely by the landowners. Society as a whole has expressed an interest in the success of private forest land management.
NIPFLs, with the timely assistance of selected public and private agencies, want to sustain healthy forest ecosystems which deliver a sustainable supply of forest PRODUCTS and landowner VALUES.
Guiding Principles upon which the MFOA relies in supporting NIPFLs.
1. FREEDOM TO MANAGE OUR OWN FOREST LAND PROPERTY
• Support legislative and other efforts to recognize the benefits of good forestry practice and the rights of landowners to manage and harvest trees according to our own management plan objectives.
• Ensure NIPFL participation on appropriate state policy-making groups forming forest policy
2. IMPROVED FOREST PRODUCTS MARKETS
• Reinforce the important role forestry and forestry professionals play in the economic and cultural life of the state.
• Endorse open access for our forest products to regional, national and world markets.
3. FAIR INCOME, ESTATE AND PROPERTY TAX INCENTIVES
• Encourage fair taxation for funding wildfires:
- Preparing for and suppressing wildfires require competent and active cooperation among local, state, and federal agencies and private citizens to handle these responsibilities effectively. Dealing with the costs of fighting wildfires is an important issue, one which should be based on a sound analysis of the complexities involved and not on a quick-fix approach that targets individual groups and businesses.
• Work to create reduced taxation levels for smaller forest tracts that are subject to a forest management plan.
• Work with regional and national organizations to reduce estate taxes.
• Support fair capital gains treatments for timber (appropriate inflationary adjustments as well as forestry expense deductions) and support the Montana forest productivity tax system.
4. PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS
• Insist that legitimate private property rights be upheld under the law, with prompt and just compensation for public takings of private property (Endangered Species Act)
5. FORESTRY EDUCATION OVER FORESTRY REGULATION
• Work with MSU-Extension Forestry and MT DNRC Service Forestry to ensure appropriate levels of private forest landowner educational opportunities.
• Support Montana's voluntary Best Management Practices for forestry and the BMP audit process.
6. FIRE POLICIES AND REGULATION
• Encourage NIPFLs to reduce fuels, provide effective access and use fire-safe building, landscape and storage procedures.
• Develop incentives for family forests that manage hazard fuels.
• Limited liability legislation for prescribed burning with a burn plan for Montana Landowners.
• Work for responsible use of prescribed burning techniques and the development of prescribed burning education programs.