Forest Landowner Conference offers ways to boost value of woodlands

The recent North Carolina and Virginia Forest Landowner Conference turned the spotlight on the  growing number of ways landowners can generate income from their property, beyond timber production and sales.

Roanoke Electric Co-op’s Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Project and the Durham-based Black Family Land Trust organized the Oct. 27-28 virtual conference, which focused on programs and best practices aimed at boosting the value of their woodland properties.

In his keynote address, the co-op’s President and CEO Curtis Wynn said he centered his remarks on “diversity, equity and inclusion, because that is so much of what our Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention project is really about.”

He pointed out how the co-op’s forestry initiative has benefited local African American landowners. To date, the project has established a strong track record of success that includes providing more than $600,000 in financial assistance, developing 145 forest management plans, and implementing forestry best practices covering 3,000 acres of land.

The project is one of seven similar programs nationwide that collectively support 1300 families and encompass 90,000 acres. “This is a clear demonstration of the power electric co-ops can bring,” he added.

Wynn issued a call to action to all the conference participants, who joined from as far away as Indiana, Michigan and California. “My call action to you is this. If you are a member of an electric cooperative, take the necessary steps to become engaged and learn as much as you can about the services they offer,” he said. “Get involved.”

Conference participants learned about the increasing variety of opportunities to derive income from their property, including siting solar energy projects, leasing portions of their land for outdoor activities like hunting and camping, and leasing forestland for the value of its carbon sequestration credits.

Presentations also offered information on the technical and financial assistance available from federal and state forestry and natural resource agencies. Likewise, participants learned how they can reduce their tax obligation through mechanisms like the Present Use Valuation property tax program.

The conference was sponsored through a grant from the N.C. Forest Service Stewardship Program. The N.C. State Extension Forestry provided logistical support.

Recordings of the conference sessions can be found here: https://www.roanokeelectric.com/roanoke-sustainable-forestry/events/forest-landowner-conference/