Missouri Managed Woods (MMW) is a voluntary program designed to encourage better management and protection of privately owned forested lands. MMW provides services to help participants care for their woods and a property tax reduction to encourage long-term care of lands enrolled in the program. Participating landowners are required to carry out responsible forest management in exchange for the benefits of the program. It is entirely optional for landowners to apply to participate in MMW.
- A minimum of 20 acres of wooded land in a contiguous block
- Land with a market value of less than $3,500 per acre
- Agree to a 15-year enrollment commitment
- No structures allowed on enrolled lands (houses, barns, sheds)
- Priority assistance from a professional forester
- A forest management plan based on your goals and objectives, and the condition of your woods
- Timber sale assistance
- Property tax reduction
- Increased cost share rate to assist with forest management practices
- Forest certification through the American Tree Farm System
- A timber basis evaluation when needed and appropriate
- Sign the management plan and agree to implement it, showing progress within five years
- An expectation of enrollment in the Tree Farm program
- Have clearly marked property boundaries
- Fence livestock out of the woods
Missouri Managed Woods is administered by MDC’s Forestry Division. For more information contact your local MDC Office, or call 877-564-7483.
The Enrollment Process
The Enrollment Process
Landowners wishing to participate in the MMW program are required to complete an application and submit it to MDC, via email (email@example.com), regular mail, or to a local office. A forester will inspect the property to assure compatibility with program goals and requirements.
In addition to meeting the general program requirements, landowners applying to enroll their wooded lands in MMW will be evaluated regarding their likelihood of implementing a forest management plan. The enrollment process can begin immediately for landowners who have a management plan and have successfully worked with an agency or other professional forester to implement forest management practices in the past, assuming the general program requirements are met. For landowners having no prior experience with forest management, entry into MMW will be delayed until they complete a limited-scope forest management project within a time frame agreed upon by the forester and the landowner.
While completing the introductory forest management project, property taxes will remain at the regular level for the property. Upon successful completion of the project, and assuming continued interest on the part of the landowner, the MMW enrollment process will proceed with the preparation of a comprehensive forest management plan which is written based upon the landowner’s goals and objectives, as well as the condition of the resources present, to guide management of their property. Should they desire, once the plan is complete the landowner will be able to join Tree Farm. At this point the county will be notified of a change in the assessed value of the enrolled lands to $3.00 per acre and the landowner’s property tax payments will be reduced the following year. MDC will make an annual payment to the county to supplement the difference in property tax revenue caused by the reduced property tax paid by the landowner. This payment in lieu of taxes is currently set at $1.00 per acre per year.
The forest management plan prepared for the tract by an MDC or other professional forester and agreed to by the owner must contain, and be responsive to, all elements required by the Tree Farm and Forest Stewardship programs when the plan is written. The five-year Management Agreement shall outline and describe those reasonable accomplishments to be completed in a five-year period, taking into account forest composition, general condition, and the owner’s objectives. Failure to complete accomplishments agreed upon during this period or comply with Tree Farm or Forest Stewardship management standards shall be deemed grounds for cancellation of the MMW designation unless it may be demonstrated that such failure was due to circumstances beyond the control of the owner. At the end of five years and for each five-year period thereafter, a new Management Agreement shall be reached by and between the landowner and MDC.
Basic Rules Regarding the Management of Designated MMW Lands
If lands are to be designated as MMW lands, the owner must agree to follow basic standards of sustainable forest management as outlined in Tree Farm’s Standards and Guidance, and as prescribed by MDC, as shown in Missouri Forest Management Guidelines, Voluntary Recommendations for Well-Managed Forests, Missouri Department of Conservation, 2014 (or a more current version), (hereinafter referred to as Missouri Forest Management Guidelines). Links to these publications can be found on the MMW page.
Cattle and other domestic livestock must be excluded by fence from MMW lands at the time of program enrollment. An exception may be made if their presence is used to help achieve forest management goals as specified in the current forest management plan and specifically approved by the supervising MDC forester. Temporary, supervised use of goats to control/eliminate invasive plant species might be an example of an approved use of domestic livestock on MMW lands.
Every reasonable effort must be made by the owners to prevent wildfires from starting on MMW lands. Prescribed fire may be used as a management tool when appropriate and specified by the current approved forest management plan for the property. A burn plan must be prepared which specifies resource objectives to be achieved by the prescribed fire and seeks to minimize damage to trees important to the future of the woods. The forester who is the contact for implementing the forest management plan for the property must approve the burn plan before any burning may take place. Prescribed fire ignition techniques and a sample burn plan may be found in Missouri Forest Management Guidelines.
The impoundment of water and installation of permanent food plots for the benefit of wildlife shall not exceed 3 percent of each 40 acres, unless specifically authorized in the approved forest management plan.
Care must be taken during management activities to protect soil and water resources associated with the site by following Best Management Practices (BMPs) as specified in Missouri Forest Management Guidelines and Missouri Watershed Protection Practice, Recommended Practices for Missouri Forests, MDC 2014 (or a more current version).
Care must also be taken during management activities to avoid negative impacts on species of conservation concern which may be present at the site. The supervising forester will advise the landowner of the most current guidance.
Sale of Forest Products
Timber harvesting must conform to sustainable practices to provide for adequate restocking with trees of desirable species and condition. Appropriate management techniques are shown in Missouri Forest Management Guidelines.
An owner shall give written notice to the local MDC forester or the MDC Central Office in Jefferson City (email to firstname.lastname@example.org 30 days prior to the harvesting of any timber. Such notice shall include the location of the woodland, the approximate acreage proposed to be cut, and the cutting plan if known. Notice to MDC is not required for the cutting of firewood, posts or timber for use on the premises, or at home, by the owner or person controlling the above described lands.
Harvesting shall be completed within a reasonable time schedule according to the management requirements of the tract, market conditions for harvested products, and the overall objectives of the landowner. Appropriate BMPs for the harvest site, as shown in Missouri Forest Management Guidelines, must be followed.
A landowner conducting a timber sale on currently enrolled MMW lands must:
- Use a professional forester to mark and administer the sale.
- Have a harvest plan prepared by the forester in consultation with the logger.
- Use a trained logger, either Professional Timber Harvester (PTH) or preferably a Missouri Certified Master Logger™.
- Follow appropriate BMPs for the timber sale site following recommendations found in Missouri Forest Management Guidelines.
- Implement post-sale timber stand improvement recommendations in the harvested stands.
An MDC forester will do a post-sale inspection to verify compliance with the actions listed above.
Removing Lands From MMW Designation
After land has been designated by MDC as MMW land, it will remain in the program for a period of 15 years. MDC may cancel the designation at any time if there is evidence that the owner is not following recommended forest management practices, or is engaging in practices which are injurious to the continued productivity of the forest stands. The erecting of permanent buildings on designated lands, or subdividing into tracts of less than the 20-acre minimum, shall also be grounds for cancellation. MMW lands must be devoted exclusively to sustainable forest management and the many benefits it provides.
Should an owner desire to withdraw his land from MMW designation during the 15-year period, they may do so by repaying to MDC all money paid by MDC to the county as a grant in lieu of taxes on his tract while it was so designated (currently $1.00 per acre per year), plus a penalty of 5 percent of this amount.
In cases where MDC cancels a tract for infractions of the basic rules, the owner is required to reimburse MDC in a similar manner, except that the penalty is 10 percent. These payments shall be in addition to any annual tax or yield tax which may have been paid or may be collected.
Transfer of Ownership
The transfer of ownership does not affect the designation of MMW land, provided that tracts remain at least 20 acres in size. When the ownership of designated MMW land is transferred, the new owner may assume the plan and management accomplishment agreement of the previous owner, or elect to write a new forest management plan and enter into a new agreement. A new owner of a previously designated MMW tract may also elect to withdraw the land from the MMW program by following the normal voluntary withdrawal procedures as outlined above. Such a withdrawal may take place before the sale of the property is finalized and responsibility for payment of the withdrawal penalty may be negotiated between buyer and seller.