Good morning Sen. Edgecomb, Rep. Hickman, and members of the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee. My name is Eliza Donoghue. I am here today on behalf of the 16,000 members and supporters of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) to speak in opposition of LD 1169, RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Permit 25 Acres or Less To Be Withdrawn from Taxation as Timberland and Woodland without Penalty.
LD 1169 would allow landowners to withdraw up to 25 acres of land from what is popularly known as “Tree Growth” without penalty. Tree Growth provides for the valuation of land that has been classified as forest land on the basis of productivity, as opposed to the highest valuation of that land. NRCM supports Tree Growth because it encourages landowners to maintain their property as forest land.
Forest land supports not only Maine’s timber industry, but also its thriving outdoor recreation-based economy and wildlife habitat. Maine is renowned for its spectacular forests. Tree Growth is part of a larger body of laws that supports our forested landscape. This bill would have the effect of depleting one of Maine’s most important and iconic resources.
Maine taxpayers have supported Tree Growth because of the long-term benefit to the State of keeping lands forested. Landowners should not be allowed to benefit from lowered taxes for years, and then simply take their lands out of the program and develop them without repaying the benefits they have received for years. This is not sound tax policy.
NRCM encourages the Committee to vote Ought Not to Pass on LD 1169.