The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) draws on two funding sources to administer the Idaho Forest Practices Act (FPA) on private forestlands: 1) State General Fund tax dollars and 2) a FPA assessment. These monies allow the IDL private forestry specialists to inspect, enforce and assist forest owners in complying with FPA Rules.
Since 2003, the FPA assessment has been $0.10 per acre of forest land. House Bill 44, passed by the 2019 Idaho House and Senate and signed by Governor Little on February 26, increases the maximum assessment rate to $0.20 per acre. However, the State Board of Land Commissioners (Land Board) determines the actual annual rate. IDL will recommend an increase from $0.10 to $0.13 per acre to the Land Board. IDL predicts that this increase will sufficiently fund FPA administration for the next three to five years. Forest owners should expect to see this $0.03 per acre increase on their property tax bill later this year.
Now that you are thinking about your property tax statement, take a close look and you will notice an assessment for Forest Protection. The assessment falls under the authority of the Idaho Forestry Act (Title 38, Chapter 1) to provide funding for IDL fire districts. In turn, the fire districts maintain equipment, crews and other resources to suppress wildfire on private lands. The current assessment cannot exceed $0.65 per acre. It also includes a surcharge of up to $40.00 for improved parcels containing a residence or other structures. Check with you local IDL fire warden for the exact amount that you pay for wildfire protection on your forestland.
You may grumble a little bit when you pay these assessments in December, but when the hot, dry days of August roll around, it’s reassuring to know that IDL is prepared to roll if a wildfire ignites in your neighborhood.
— Bill Love, Certified Forester