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Chittenden, Alfred K. (Alfred Knight), 1879-1930 / The taxation of forest lands in Wisconsin

General description,   pp. 9-20 PDF (3.1 MB)

Page 20

  From interviewing many farmers in the county it is apparent that the
more progressive of them are really interested in caring for their woods,
and are of the opinion that they can often well afford to leave a strip
of woodlot on $100 land, because of other considerations than the direct
money return from the woods. In many cases the value of a large part
of a farm is enhanced by the protection from parching winds afforded
by a neighboring woodlot. The regulated and limited use of a woodlot
as shade for cattle is also greatly appreciated by most of the farmers.
It will undoubtedly be to the advantage, then, of the country in general
to maintain at least 5 per cent of even such valuable land as this in
timber, and there seems to be no doubt that some adjustment of taxes
in favor of small woodlots would prove very beneficial.
  It is right here that the question of taxation, as applied to timber, is
an important factor. Timber land throughout the county is assessed as
high as the cultivated land on a farm. Yet in spite of this there are
many farmers who prefer to keep from 10 to 15 acres in timber. If the
productive capacities of fields adjacent to a forest are augumented by
its protection, the increased earning power of that field should not be
charged, for taxation purposes, both to it and to the forest as well. The
forest land should be taxed only for what it can be made to produce in
wood material. The amount necessary to be raised by taxes will
naturally be made up on the agricultural land, but such adjustment
would unquestionably encourage the farmer to preserve his woodlands
and enable the more enterprising to practice forestry at a fairer
profit. Fully 5 per cent of the area of any farm community should be
kept forested, as the most progressive residents fully realize, for the
sake of both the community and the individual.
  It is evident that, under such a plan, the larger the forest area on a
farm the lighter the owner's tax would be, yet the greater productive
capacity of the land when devoted to farming, would automatically
check a farmer from trying to reduce his taxes by maintaining large
areas in woods. By reducing the valuations on woodlots to 25 per cent
a progressive farmer would simply be encouraged to maintain his 5 to
10 acres of woodlot, or as much as he might need, and the farmer who
would take no interest in preserving his trees would, of course, feel the
increase in the tax on his farm land. The average farmer, however,
would scarcely feel any difference in his tax burden.

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