Tree Farmers Vermont

Entering the Vermont Tree Farm Program

Simply put, entering the Tree Farm program requires a minimum acreage (10 acres of forest generally not including a house site of 2 acres), a forest management plan that meets the ATFS standards, and an ATFS active forester who may sign off on the quality of the plan and physical compliance in the forest with the plan. While Vermont has an abundance of trained ATFS foresters, the plan writer need not be the ATFS forester, only that the plan be signed off by an ATFS forester. Many of the FPR county foresters are ATFS foresters and may, time permitting, be the signatory person on the ATFS verification paperwork — commonly called the “021 Form” — if the plan meets the ATFS standards.

There is another category available to a landowner with the minimum acreage to enter the program: it’s called the Pioneer Program. This category is used in two different manners: first, to bring a new landowner into the program, and second, to “hold” previously certified Tree Farms until they are eligible for full certification again.

For forest landowners coming into the program who:

  • Don’t have a management plan, or
  • Have a plan that doesn’t meet the ATFS standard, or
  • Have a plan that has not been reviewed and signed off on by a ATFS trained forester,

and, in all of the above cases, plan to bring the plan into full compliance, the Pioneer program is a great option! A Tree Farmer can be held as a Pioneer until the management plan earns the signature of an ATFS forester, assuming it is within 5 years of the initial effort to enter the Pioneer program as signed off on by an ATFS forester on the “Pioneer” ATFS Form 021.

For those Tree Farmers who had been fully certified in the past but now have:

  • Plans that have fallen out of compliance with, or been updated to the latest ATFS standards, or
  • Executed management activities in their forest that do not follow the certified management plan approved for their Tree Farm and have not been approved by an ATFS forester, or
  • Not had an ATFS Form 021 form executed on their Tree Farm in two cycles of the maximum time between Form 021s (10 years),

and, in all the above cases, can rectify the deficiency within 5 years, the Pioneer program is also a great option! A Pioneer may be returned to fully certified status if the deficient reason is rectified within 5 years of being “held” in the Pioneer status. However, properties “held” in the Pioneer status that have not corrected the reason for placement in that status after 5 years are subject to removal from the program altogether.

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