Appendix G

“The realities of protecting land” activity background

Three siblings recently inherited a 200-acre parcel of land in Milford, PA and are about to start discussions on what to do with the land. They need to raise $15,000 to pay inheritance taxes on the property and would like to raise an additional $30,000 to cover renovations of the farm house on the property. Additionally, the siblings would like to raise $21,000 annually to cover taxes and maintenance costs.   One sibling would like to donate the development rights to protect the land permanently in a conservation easement.    Another sibling has run into financial difficulties and is facing foreclosing on his personal house.  He is interested in activities that will produce extra revenue as soon as possible. The third sibling is a wildlife enthusiast and would like to increase habitat for the golden winged warbler, and protect the current Allegheny wood rat habitat on the property.  She is worried, however, about paying for her children’s college education, and is also interested in raising revenue from the land. A develop has approached the siblings about purchasing 30 acres of the property to turn into a housing development.  The developer is interested in the 30 acres surrounding Lookout Mountain, because it has a beautiful view of Delaware River and the town of Milford.  A friend of the family has informed the siblings that their patch of ash trees is threatened by Emerald Ash borer. The ash trees are growing on the edge of the stream, protecting it from erosion.

Inheritance tax: $15,000 one-time tax
$30,000 in renovations for the farm house, one-time cost
Annual taxes are $70/acre plus $4,000 for the farm house
Maintenance and utilities costs: $4000 annually

Possible sources of income:

  • Timber harvest.
    • High-grading the site (taking the best, leaving the rest) would generate $12,000 immediately on site A and  $15,000 on site B, but would leave these stands in ecologically deteriorated states (see Forest Ecology PowerPoint in pre-lesson for explanation)
    •  A shelterwood on site A would generate $7,000 immediately, and $10,000 in 10 years, and a shelterwood on site B would generate $8,000 immediately, and $12,000 in 10 years.
  • Selling water from Sawkill Creek to a bottling company.  This would generate $20,000 annually, but is worrisome to downstream neighbors.  This would not be permitted if the land is put in a conservation easement.
  • Leasing one acre to a cell phone company for a cell tower. The best place for the tower is on Lookout Mountain.  This would generate $15,000 a year.
  • A conservation easement would reduce land taxes to $15/acre a year.  Taxes on the house and maintenance costs would stay the same.
  • NRCS grant will provide up to $1,000/acre for up to 10 acres for one year to create early-successional habitat for golden winged warblers.  This funding covers the cost of creating early-successional habitat and cannot be used for other purposes.
  • Sell 30 acres (top of Lookout Mountain) to a developer: $300,000.
  • Sell part of the land to raise revenue.  There is a desirable house site that will generate $22,000.
  • Other (reasonable) ideas?

Possible uses of the land:

  • Conservation easement.  Would allow timber harvesting, but not selling water or developing the land.   If the siblings decide to pursue a conservation easement, they can choose to leave small sections of land out of the easement if desired.
  • Increase golden winged warbler habitat (create early-successional habitat)
  • Enhance Allegheny wood rat habitat by releasing oak trees near rocky outcrops (release means cutting competing trees) to encourage nut production.
  • Preemptively harvest some of the ash trees in anticipation of the arrival of Emerald Ash Borer and replant the site with other species.  What would you plant in place of these trees?  Think about the importance of diversity.  The cost of planting trees can be covered by an NRCS Eqip grant.












= Ash trees

Lookout Mountain

= Housing development site

= Merchantable timber sites

= Property boundary



Lookout Mountain

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