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INCENTIVE PROGRAMS for Forest Landowners in Hawaiʻi

Which program is best for me?


The following is a guide to some programs that may be able to provide assistance and incentives to help you carry out forestry and conservation programs on your land. This list is neither comprehensive nor authoritative.

Most cost-share programs reimburse landowners for a portion of their costs; payments are usually limited by (a) % or ratio of payment to match, (b) standard rates (caps) for eligible practices, or (c) annual or project total maximums.

Most programs have guidelines for what can qualify as the “match” for the cost-share.  Funding from one program usually cannot match funding from another unless one program is non-Federal and the other is Federal.

Generally, Federal and state cost-share payments need to be reported in tax returns and may or may not be taxable. For more information search for “cost-share” in  www.timbertax.org.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?


All

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

Administering Agency: Hawaii DLNR DOFAW and USDA Farm Service Agency

Purpose: Removal of cropland or marginal pasture lands from production and reforestation (preferably with native species) to protect water quality in increase habitat for native species.

Land Eligibility: Privately owned or leased cropland or marginal pasture lands within quarter mile of intermittent or permanent water courses.

Incentive: Annual per-acre land rental payments, up to 50% cost-share payments for conservation practices, signing incentive payment, practice incentive payments, mid-contract management payment.

Time Frame: 15 years.

Other Requirements: Subject to Adjusted Gross Income limitations, waivers may be allowed.

Contact:

 


Hawaii Forest Legacy

Administering Agency: Hawaii DLNR-DOFAW (via USDA Forest Service funds)

Purpose: Preclude conversion of forest land to non-forest uses.

Land Eligibility: Private landowner that is a willing seller, currently 75% forested and threatened by development or fragmentation; must fall within designated “Forest Legacy Areas”.

Incentive: Federal funds available to purchase up to 75% of market value of a conservation easement or fee simple acquisition. Carries potential tax benefits.

Time Frame: Permanent.

Other Requirements: Subject to competitive prioritization at state, regional, and national levels. Requires FSP Plan; may require EA and CDUP. Subject to Yellow Book standard appraisal and review.

Contact:


Pacific Islands Coastal Program

Administering Agency: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Purpose: Conserve fish and wildlife and their habitats to support healthy coastal ecosystems.

Land Eligibility: Focused efforts on offshore islets, estuaries, and watersheds.

Incentive: Generally 3:1 match.

Time Frame:

Other Requirements: Projects cannot be used to fulfill mitigation requirements or for land purchase, but funds are available to facilitate purchase, for example appraisals and due diligence needs.

Contact:


Hawaiian Islands Land Trust

Administering Agency: Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, a private 501c3 charitable organization.

Purpose: Protect wild, scenic, and open lands by purchasing conservation easements.

Land Eligibility: Private lands.

Incentive: Payments, possible tax incentives for donations.

Time Frame: Permanent.

Other Requirements:

Contact:

  • Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
    P.O. Box 965
    Wailuku, Hawaii 96793
    (808) 244-LAND
    www.hilt.org/

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

Administering Agency: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Purpose: Restoration of unique native habitats, especially for threatened and endangered plant and animal species; priority habitats for Hawaii include native forests

Land Eligibility: Private or leased agricultural or forest land.

Incentive: Up to 75% cost-share on 5-10 year contract. Up to 100% cost-share on 15-year contract.

Time Frame: 5-10 year contract. 15-year contract.

Other Requirements: Non-industrial private forest landowners eligible.  Grantee to obtain any necessary permits.

Contact:


Urban & Community Forestry ~ Kaulunani

Administering Agency: Hawaii DLNR-DOFAW (USDA FS funds)

Purpose: Tree-planting in urban and community settings; educational programs; technical tree-care programs; Arbor Day activities.

Land Eligibility: Public lands or private lands with public access. No personal landscaping allowed.

Incentive: Up to 50% cost-share, maximum usually $10,000/year but exceptions are made for special projects.

Time Frame: Usually one year.

Other Requirements: Applicant must be non-profit organization, tree advocacy or civic group, educational institution, and/or local & state government agency.

Contact:


Conservation Innovation Grants Program (CIG)

Administering Agency: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Purpose: Stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection.

Land Eligibility: State or local units of government, Federally-recognized Tribes, non-governmental organizations, and individuals.

Incentive: 50% cost-share payments for demonstrating innovative technologies or approaches to address a natural resource conservation concern.

Time Frame: 3 years.

Other Requirements: NRCS funds both state level and national level programs. State level programs can be funded up to $75,000. Proposed projects must involve EQIP-eligible producers.

Contact:


Natural Areas Partnership (NAP)

Administering Agency: Hawaii DLNR-DOFAW

Purpose: Protection, restoration and enhancement of significant native resources or geological features.

Land Eligibility: Private landowner who is a willing seller with intact native Hawaiian ecosystems, essential habitat for endangered species, and areas within the protective (P) subzone of the Conservation District; applicant may be cooperating entity managing such lands.

Incentive: Up to 67% cost-share. Possible reduced land taxes.

Time Frame: Permanent dedication through transfer of fee title or conservation easement.

Other Requirements: Development of long-range agreements and management plans; requires EA. Onus on grantee to obtain any necessary permits.

Contact:


Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA) and Habitat Conservation Plans

Administering Agency: Hawaii DLNR-DOFAW, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Purpose: Proactive natural resource management to benefit endangered and threatened species.

Land Eligibility: Private and public lands.

Incentive: Provides regulatory assurances that future property-use restrictions will not be imposed.

Time Frame: 5-15 year commitment.

Other Requirements: Activities must meet “net conservation benefit” criteria for species.

Contact:


Hawaii Legacy Land Conservation Program

Administering Agency: Hawaii DLNR-DOFAW

Purpose: Providing for the acquisition of lands and easements.

Land Eligibility: Lands for watershed and habitat protection, parks, coastal area, natural areas, agricultural production, cultural or historical sites, recreation and public hunting.

Incentive: County agency or nonprofit land conservation organization grant recipients must provide match funds of at least 25% of the total project costs.

Time Frame: Permanent.

Other Requirements: Intended for state agencies, counties, and non-profit land conservation organizations seeking funding to acquire property.

Contact:


Clean Water Act
Section 319 grants

Administering Agency: Hawaii Dept. of Health (funds from US EPA)

Purpose: Reduce non-point source water pollution.

Land Eligibility: State, private, communities, cities, counties, non-profits.

Incentive: 50% cost-share.

Time Frame: 24 to 36 months.

Other Requirements: Priority watersheds are listed. Grantee to obtain necessary permits.

Contact:


HRS 186 Tree Farm Designation

Administering Agency: Hawaii DLNR-DOFAW

Purpose: Sustained production of forest products in quantity sufficient to establish a business.

Land Eligibility: Private property or lease (minimum 20 years), 10 acre minimum.

Incentive: “Right to Harvest” law applies. Land will be taxed based on agriculture zoning.

Time Frame: Usually one year.

Other Requirements: Management Plan approved by DLNR Board.

Contact:


Hawaii Forest Stewardship Program (FSP)

Administering Agency: Hawaii DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW)

Purpose: Complete range of forest management activities, including: conservation, restoration, timber production, and plan development.

Land Eligibility: Private, privately leased lands (10-year minimum lease); minimum 5 contiguous acres in FSP project; "non-industrial" owners.

Incentive: Up to 50% cost-share, usually limited to $75,000/year.

Time Frame: 10 years of cost sharing with a post 10 or more year maintenance period. Minimum 30-year contract if involves timber production.

Other Requirements: Pre-proposal and land management plan required; payback provisions may be required for timber harvest. Onus on grantee to obtain any necessary permits, including EA’s or CDUP’s.

Contact:


Partners for Fish & Wildlife

Administering Agency: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Purpose: Voluntary restoration of native habitats to achieve (1) long-term benefits to threatened and endangered species and/or (2) satisfy the needs of wildlife populations on National Wildlife Refuges.

Land Eligibility: Private lands and Hawaiian Homelands. Lands within Hawaii State Watershed Partnerships are given funding priority.

Incentive: Up to 50% cost-share; technical assistance also provided.

Time Frame: 10-year minimum commitment.

Other Requirements: Projects cannot be used to fulfill mitigation requirements. Grantee to obtain any necessary permits.

Contact:


Watershed Partnership Program

Administering Agency: Hawaii DLNR-DOFAW

Purpose: Cooperative projects that benefit on-the-ground activities protecting land for watershed conservation and implementing existing management plans negotiated under the Partnerships.

Land Eligibility: Landowner must inter into a MOU or agreement adopting the existing management plan scope.

Incentive: No mandatory cost-share requirement, but leveraging of funds is encouraged.

Time Frame: Year-to-year as funds are available.

Other Requirements: EA may be necessary. Grantee to obtain any necessary permits. Reporting necessary.

Contact:


Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Administering Agency: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Purpose: Priority resource concerns pertinent to forestry include: (1) sedimentation from accelerated erosion; (2) noxious weeds; (3) at-risk species habitat; (4) invasive species.

Land Eligibility: Private or State owned land 5-10+ year lease: cropland, rangeland, pasture, forest, other farm or ranch land.

Incentive: Up to 75% cost-share, up to 90% for historically underserved producers.

Time Frame: 3-year cost-share agreements.

Other Requirements: Non-industrial private forest landowners eligible. Grantee to obtain any necessary permits.

Contact:


Army Compatible Use Buffers Program

Administering Agency: US Army

Purpose: Supports the Army mission by preventing encroachment by development onto Army installation boundaries.  May also be used to protect endangered species populations on non-contiguous lands to buffer impacts by military training on Army lands. Funding available for non-government organization or state/local agency to purchase a land or conservation easements. Helps the Army meet Endangered Species Recovery Act and prevention of future threatened and endangered species listings.

Land Eligibility: Private landowner who is a willing seller near Army lands and a willing partner to hold title to the land and manage it for conservation or agriculture into the future.  Army does not hold title or have any interest in the land.

Incentive: Possible reduced land taxes.

Time Frame: Permanent

Other Requirements: Priority watersheds are listed. Grantee to obtain necessary permits.

Contact:

  • Alvin Char, Chief, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, USAG-HI, (808) 656-5790, Alvin.Char@us.army.mil

Income Taxes
TIMBER PRODUCTION

Administering Agency: Internal Revenue Service

Purpose: Planting for timber production; Timber sales.

Land Eligibility: Private enterprises.

Incentive: For planting, deduction or amortization of planting costs - up to approximately $10,000. For timber sales, long-term capital gains treatment.

Time Frame: For planting, amortize over 7 years. For timber sales, timber held over 1 year

Other Requirements: For timber sales, must establish basis.

Contact:


Kauai County: Agricultural Property Tax Reduction

Administering Agency: Kauai County

Purpose: Commercial tree farms.

Land Eligibility: Private property or lease; minimum 5 years’ acceptable previous agricultural land use; agricultural condominiums not eligible.

Incentive: Tax assessment 50% of fair market value.

Time Frame: 20-year dedication; 10-year dedications might be allowed for short-rotation tree farms.

Other Requirements: Tree farm management plan and other information.

Contact:

  • Damien Ventura, Real Property Assessment Division, (808) 241-4224

Hawaii County: Native Forest Dedication

Administering Agency: Hawaii County

Purpose: Preservation, restoration, and conservation of native forest (defined as at least 25% tree cover and 60% cover of native forest species).

Land Eligibility: Private property or lease of at least 20 yrs, minimum 3 acres..

Incentive: Low tax assessments, same as for pasture.

Time Frame: 20 year agreement to use land as native forest.

Other Requirements: Forest management plan; written affidavit from recognized forestry professional that restoration plan is likely to succeed within the designated time period.

Contact:

  • Real Property Tax Division – Appraiser (808) 961-8354
    http://www.hawaiipropertytax.com
    Click on “Forms”, then on “Dedications”, then see information on Native Forest Dedications.

Income Taxes ENDANGERED SPECIES Tax Deduction

Administering Agency: Internal Revenue Service with assistance from US Fish and Wildlife Service

Purpose: Achieving site-specific management actions recommended in recovery plans for species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Land Eligibility: Private lands with endangered species on, or within the vicinity of the property.

Incentive: Income tax deductions for expenditures paid or incurred for implementing actions benefitting the recovery of federally threatened or endangered (listed) species.

Time Frame: Annual.

Other Requirements: To be eligible for the deduction, the expenditures must be for site-specific management actions recommended in approved recovery plans for federally listed threatened or endangered species.

Contact:


Kauai County: Agricultural Property Tax Exemption

Administering Agency: Kauai County

Purpose: Tree farms.

Land Eligibility: Private property or lease; minimum 10 acres; land in urban district not eligible.

Incentive: $1000/parcel/year with a 10 year dedication and $500/parcel/year with a 20 year dedication.

Time Frame: Harvesting must take place 6-25 years after planting.

Other Requirements: Tree farm management plan and other information.

Contact:

  • Damien Ventura, Real Property Assessment Division, (808) 241-4224

Hawaii County: Agricultural Tax Rates

Administering Agency: Hawaii County

Purpose: Commercial tree farming (“Fast Rotation Forestry” and “Slow Rotation Forestry”).

Land Eligibility: Private property.

Incentive: Agricultural Property Tax Reduction; rates based on crop and productivity.

Time Frame: Depends on dedication and acreage dedicated.

Other Requirements:

Contact:

  • Appraiser, Real Property Tax Division, 808-961-8354 http://www.hawaiipropertytax.com
    Click “Forms and Instructions,” then “Miscellaneous,” then “Ag Use Codes” links.

Honolulu City and County: Property Tax Treatment

Administering Agency: City and County of Honolulu

Purpose: Tree Farming.

Land Eligibility: Private Property or minimum 20-year lease; minimum 10 acres.

Incentive: Agricultural Property Tax Reduction (1-5% of fair market value, depending upon length of dedication).

Time Frame: 1-, 5- or 10-year dedications.

Other Requirements: HRS 186 Tree Farm Designation (see above).

Contact:


Maui County: Property Tax Treatment

Administering Agency: Maui County

Purpose: Tree farms (not specifically addressed in Code, but could be considered “crop”).

Land Eligibility: Private property or lease; minimum 5 years acceptable previous agricultural land use.

Incentive: Tax assessment 50% of fair market value.

Time Frame: 20-year dedication; 10-year dedications might be allowed for short-rotation tree farms.

Other Requirements: Petition Director of Finance.

Contact:


If you require information in an alternative format, please contact us at: jbfriday@hawaii.edu