Timber company agrees to pay $375,000 to resolve overharvesting claims

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Timber company agrees to pay $375,000 to resolve overharvesting claims

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 2:38pm -- hannah@vermontb...

Vermont Business Magazine The State of Vermont has settled a major forestry case with Plum Creek Maine Timberlands, LLC (Plum Creek) for $375,000. This settlement resolves claims that Plum Creek overharvested trees in violation of its forest management plan. The settlement resolves a case that began in 2010 when Plum Creek was found to have overharvested trees from their property. Due to this violation, the State removed a parcel of Plum Creek’s forest land from Vermont’s Current Use Program. The Current Use Program allows lands producing timber or agricultural products to be appraised based on those uses rather than the commercial value of the property. Last fall, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreations’ finding that Plum Creek had violated its forest management plan by overharvesting trees. The matter was remanded back to the Superior Court to determine the tax consequences of the violation.

Michael Snyder, the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, stated: “The Department staff takes great care in reviewing and approving forest management plans. This protects Vermont’s forests and helps sustain Vermont’s working landscapes by keeping forest land in sustainable and productive forest management, while allowing landowners to achieve their forest management objectives. The resolution of this case recognizes the basic requirement that landowners must follow their approved forest management plan to maintain eligibility for enrollment in the State’s Current Use Program. The resolution also reflects the purposes of the Current Use Program to conserve the working landscape and rural character of Vermont, and to encourage and assist landowners to maintain their forest land in productive forestry uses, prevent conversion of forests to non-forest uses, and conserve forests and ecologically sensitive areas in Vermont.”

In addition to the $375,000 payment to the State, under the terms of the settlement, the State will re-enroll the property in the Current Use Program for 2017. The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation visited the overharvested area in July 2017 and confirmed that it is presently in compliance with Plum Creek’s forest management plan. Under a recent corporate merger, the Weyerhaeuser Company has succeeded Plum Creek as the owner of the property.

Source - Vermont Attorney General's Office 7.12.2017