What are Forest Management Plans? Do I need one?

A management plan describes the current condition of your forestland and details the appropriate management practices or varying options that can help accomplish your goals. The plan can be as simple as a map and a few pages detailing recommended harvests or a complex document describing forest, soil, water, and wildlife resources, along with property history and management recommendations with explanations of the theory behind the management.

Management plans are an excellent resource for all who assist in management activities on your property and can be very beneficial as an organizational tool.  Maintaining an up-to-date forest management plan is often required to qualify your property for cost sharing programs, sustainable forest certification programs, and property tax reductions programs.

Get started on a management plan for your property by contacting Green Timber Consulting Foresters today; we will initiate the process by asking you some questions about your needs, goals, and objectives and then we will prepare a free estimate of the costs to develop a plan tailored to your property.

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There are numerous management plan options and incentives that landowners may be interested in. We can also tailor a management plan to meet your needs outside of the requirements of the programs detailed below.

What is included in a Forest Management Plan?

The topics covered in a forest management plan, as well as the level of detail, are dependent on your goals, objectives and interests. Each forestry program (Forest Certification, Forest Stewardship Program, Commercial Forest Program, etc.) has its own specific requirements, however a typical forest management plan will address the topics listed below. When you meet with a Green Timber forester, we will identify the areas which are particularly important to you, or which are required for participation in the various programs described on this and related pages.

Cover Page including your name and contact information, legal description of the property and contact information for the plan writer.

Landowner Objectives and Goals.

Current Property Conditions and a brief statement of Desired Future Conditions.

Description of the property and how it fits into the surrounding landscape.

Timber Harvest History and Other Property History which may consist of a report of previous harvest acreage and volume, or may be as simple as an estimate of the year of the most recent harvest, depending on your access to this information.

Identification of Forest Health Concerns, including but not limited to timber quality and productivity concerns, and areas at high risk for soil erosion.

Description of Wildlife Resources and Habitat Management Recommendations

  • Food Plots
  • Habitat Tree Retention and Creation
  • Timber Harvest Strategies to Benefit Specific Species

Identification of Threatened and Endangered Plant and Animal Species which may make use of the property, and recommendations to help conserve those species.

Detailed Soil Descriptions and narratives regarding how the soils found on your property impact the tree species found there, their growth and quality, and timber harvesting recommendations.

Description of the roads and trails on your property and recommendations to keep them in a condition that permits sustained use of the property in accordance with your objectives.

Descriptions of each unique stand on your property in order to tailor forest management to the unique conditions found in specific areas of the property. Stands are identified based on species composition, age, stocking level and size class.

Forest Management Recommendations for each stand including but not limited to:

  • Timber Harvesting Method’s and Timeframes
  • Timber Stand Improvement (TSI, a non-commercial treatment to improve future quality)
  • Tree Planting

Conservation Practice Recommendations including but not limited to:

  • Tree and Shrub Planting
  • Forest Stand Improvement
  • Upland Wildlife Habitat Management
  • Closure of Unused Roads and Trails

Detailed Maps depicting the following:

  • Approximate Locations of Property Boundaries
  • Forest Stand Boundaries
  • Streams and Lakes
  • Roads and Trails
  • Soil Types
  • Special Sites including camps, unique areas, and archaeological sites (where known)

Summary Table of Management Practices for Each Stand and Recommended Dates

Inventory Report and Financial Projections if you require a detailed forest inventory, we can design a project to meet your needs and consider current market conditions to develop an estimate of future revenue.

Appendix consisting of selected literature and other documentation as an informational resource to the landowners

Simple Forest Management Plan

The Simple Forest Management Plan represents a no BS option when it comes to enrolling into the Commercial Forest or Qualified Forest Programs. This plan option provides a fairly condensed plan that describes the property and its forest resources. The Simple Plan will also recommend timber harvesting practices, and include maps of the property and the recommended management areas. The Simple Plan is your easiest, fastest, and cheapest option when looking to enroll, or remain compliant, in the Commercial Forest and Qualified Forest Programs.  

Because the Simple Plan does not include detailed information about wetlands, watersheds, wildlife, soils and more, this option does not meet the requirements for cost share funding sources. If timing is not of major concern, the NRCS Forest Management Plan option can offer large rates of cost share opportunity, which often results in lower out of pocket costs compared to a Simple Plan.  The Simple Plan option also does not meet the requirements for enrollment in sustainable Forest Certification programs, such as the American Tree Farm System

Forest Stewardship Plan

Part of the cost of a Forest Stewardship Plan (FSP) is paid by the USDA Forest Service through a program administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The Forest Stewardship Program was developed to promote education of private landowners as well as sustainable management of non-industrial private forestlands.

What are the qualifications?
All non-industrial private landowners are eligible to have an FSP written for their property, however government funding is only available for owners of at least 20 acres.

What is the cost of a Forest Stewardship Plan?
An FSP can vary in some detail depending on the property and your needs; more detailed plans will come at a higher price. Additionally, the larger your property is, the more you can expect to pay. FSP funding rates are subject to minor changes each year, but commonly offer about $200-$500 in cost share to help offset the cost of forest management planning depending on the amount of forested acreage included in the plan. Additionally, enrollment into our Green Timber Tree Farm Group would make you eligible for an additional $100 discount when having a Forest Stewardship Plan written by us. Funding is paid directly to the plan writer, however your invoice will reflect a discount in the amount of the funding.

How closely is the landowner required to follow the plan?
If you simply elect to have an FSP prepared for your property, but do not enroll in a property tax program such as Qualified Forest or Commercial Forest, you have no obligation to implement any of the recommendations set forth in your plan.

Are there any property tax incentives associated with this program?
There are no direct tax incentives for participating in the Forest Stewardship Program, however the requirements of an FSP exceed the management plan requirements of the Michigan property tax incentive programs such as Commercial Forest and Qualified Forest. Forest Stewardship Plans can also make you eligible for cost-sharing from the NRCS for tree planting and other projects. If you are interested in either of these programs, we can adjust your plan to meet the necessary requirements.

Learn More

Natural Resource Conservation Service
(NRCS) "CAP 106" Plan

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) also has a program to fund forest management plans on private lands. Cost share money is available to offset the cost of hiring a forester to write the management plan. Once your plan is completed, you are qualified to apply for funding to conduct other projects on your property.

What are the qualifications?
This program is available to landowners with property that is considered productive forestland. The forester writing the plan must have completed training to be a Technical Service Provider (TSP); Green Timber Consulting Foresters has a certified NRCS TSP on staff. Landowners must first contact the NRCS directly to initiate the process. Find contact information for NRCS Staff in your county here.

What is the cost of a NRCS Plan?
The cost of a plan varies depending on acreage and desired detail of the plan. The NRCS allocates funds on a tiered system depending on the acreage of the property; this amount changes with each federal government budget cycle. Forest management plans are eligible for the following approximate cost share amounts:

Acres Cost Share Amount
20 or Less           $1,512
21-100                $2,268
101-250              $3,654
251-500              $5,292
501-1000            $6,426
1001 or Larger    $8,253

When your plan is completed, you pay the plan writer in full for the cost of the plan which you have agreed upon. After the NRCS reviews and approves your plan, they will reimburse you the proper amount based on the size of your ownership.

How closely is the landowner required to follow the plan?
When you have met the requirements of applying to the program and your plan is approved by NRCS staff, you will receive your cost-share reimbursement. There are no other obligations unless you choose to pursue funding for specific projects.

Are there any property tax incentives associated with this program?
There are no direct tax incentives associated with NRCS plans, however the requirements of an NRCS Forest Management Plan exceed the management plan requirements of the Michigan property tax incentive programs such as Commercial Forest and Qualified Forest. If you are interested in either of these programs, we can adjust your plan to meet the requirements.

What other funding programs are available through NRCS?
Landowners can use an approved NRCS plan to qualify for funding for tree planting and other activities. Programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Programs (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) are compatible with an NRCS management plan when conservation practices are recommended for each stand.

learn more about NRCS Forest Management Plans

Which Forest Management Plan option is best for you?

Please answer the following questions so we can determine how best to help you.

Learning more about my property, including forest management recommendations, as well as information about soils, watersheds, wetlands, wildlife, and more!

I am interested in a brief property inspection and verbal summary, timber harvesting opportunities, or another forestry consultation service.

Contact us for a personalized consultation.

I need a Simple Forest Management Plan.

Contact us for your personalized Quote for you Forest Managment Plan.

I need a Forest Stewardship Plan.

Contact us for your personalized Quote for you Forest Managment Plan.

I need a NRCS “Cap 106” Forest Management Plan.

Contact us for your personalized Quote for you Forest Managment Plan.