Last fall, my wife and I bought a beautiful ~40 acre property just down the road from our current home. It has close to 35 acres of forest, with lots of hardwood trees, an enormous creek, and plenty of turkey, squirrel, deer, and other creatures that call it home. We have been told that there is even a coywolf, that the previous owner lovingly named ‘Berry,’ who lives there. We’ve never seen him, but we’ve heard him a few times.
We are in the beginning stages of planning to build our house here, but we intend to leave the land mostly the way it is and as untouched as possible. Because we live in a state that values wildlife and natural resources, we were eligible to enroll our property in a Tennessee Greenbelt program that offers a reduction of our property taxes. This week, we submitted our application and plan and were approved into the program!
Tennessee Grenbelt Act
The purpose of the Tennessee Greenbelt Act, (many other states also offer similar programs), is to help preserve agricultural, forest, and open space land and provide relief from urban sprawl. As part of our application, we had to meet the following requirements under ‘Forest Land’:
- Have at least 15 acres
- Be engaged in growing trees under a sound program of sustained yield management or have tree growth in such quantity and quality as to be managed like a forest.
- Have a forestry management plan completed by a Certified Forester.
- Submit a copy of the Forest Plan to our County’s Assessors office for review
- Adhere to the guidelines/recommendations of the Forest Plan
- Be reviewed in the future, by the Assessors office, to confirm adherence to Forest Plan guidelines/recommendations.
We fell in love with our property just the way it is, and intend to do everything we can to preserve and enhance its natural beauty anyway, so these were easy requirements to agree to. The reward for that is: 1) we, along with everyone else in the world, get to enjoy a reduction of carbon dioxide, climate change, and all of the other benefits that come along with preservation, 2) there remains a spot for local wildlife to live and thrive, and 3) we saved an estimated $800/yr in property tax
Assuming the program remains in place, we continue to adhere to the requirements, and we have the land for the next 50 years, here’s what those savings look like invested with a 6% Annual Return:
(Graph Above: At current property tax rates, in today’s (2017) dollars)
I’ll call that a huge win-win! Not every state, or every person will be eligible for a program like this. But, there are plenty of opportunities for all of us to do good by the planet, while doing a little good for our pockets at the same time. Here are some ideas, while we’re on the topic:
- Consume Less, Waste Less – when you reduce your consumption of unnecessary crap, that equates to saving:
- The fuel, materials, and electricity being burned to produce it
- The fuel and material used in order to get it into your hands
- The natural landscape being depleted by your waste when you decide your piece of plastic crap belongs in the trash anyway
- Your own pocketbook
- Make some easy changes in your own home*:
- Switch to LED Bulbs or CFLs
- Install a low pressure shower head
- Install a programmable thermostat (we use Nest) See: Savings Experiment: Nest Thermostat Results
- Get rid of your gas-guzzling SUV/Truck
- Look for energy credits and incentives from your state, the Feds, your local electric company/cooperative
- Research and consider electric vehicle, solar incentives and tax credits