ATFS Standard of Sustainability #2: Compliance with Laws

The second of American Tree Farm System’s Standards of Sustainability is: Compliance with Laws. Forest management activities must comply with all relevant federal, state and local laws, regulations and ordinances.

There are federal and state laws that deal with forest management that landowners must adhere to with their Tree Farms. Some common management activities that are regulated by states include the conservation of protected species and their habitat, prescribed burning, pesticide application, harvesting, road building, and water quality regulations. Regulations vary between states. The list below are some relevant laws that may pertain to your Vermont Tree Farm:
 Heavy Cut Law
 Slash Laws
 AMP’s regulations on Current Use Proprieties
 Shoreline regulations
 Wetland rules
 Act 250- Timber harvests above 2500’ in elevation
 Timber Trespass
Where can a woodland owner find out more about relevant laws?
Abiding by laws includes correcting conditions that may have led to adverse regulatory actions. Mistakes may occur in forest management activities. If mistakes occur, landowners must show proof of good-faith effort to remedy the nonconformance. Compliance with laws is verified by a three-step process:
 Step 1- Observation of conditions on the subject property
 Step 2- The landowner’s verbal or written claim of legal compliance
 Step 3- Research with the state Department of Natural Resources, local Natural Resource Conservation Service office, or State Forestry Commission offices

ATFS inspectors or third-party assessors determine compliance and if Steps 1 and 2 do not raise issues, then Step 3 is not required. Nonconformance to laws can lead to Tree Farm decertification.

When it comes to abiding by laws, landowners are encouraged to think of the saying, “When in doubt, ask.” This leads to an important aspect of adhering to Standard #2: landowners should get advice from qualified natural resource professionals, qualified contractors, or those trained in/familiar with laws and regulations. Foresters and other natural resource professionals are well-versed in management laws and are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to managing one’s property. Seeking guidance from them is a good way to clear up questions and keep one’s land in line with laws and regulations.

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