Originally published in the Manchester Journal Nov. 20, 2017. 

MANCHESTER — Despite a decades long career in forest management, Dorset’s Alan Calfee hasn’t lost his passion for preserving Vermont’s woodlands.

That may be part of the reason that Calfee was recently appointed by Governor Scott to serve on the state’s Current Use Advisory Board, which is charged with ensuring equitable taxation for undeveloped lands, assisting in the conservation and maintenance of Vermont’s agricultural and forest land, and encouraging citizens to act as stewards of their properties.

“Fundamentally, how the program works is that if people agree not to subdivide or develop their forest land, and follow a long-term forest management plan, that land is valued at use-value for the property rather than market value,” Calfee said. “The Current Use Advisory Board is the body that sets those use-value rates.”

Calfee, who will serve until Jan. 31, 2020, is the only forestry seat on the eight member advisory board — an appropriate position considering his extensive work in our local forests through his business Calfee Woodland Management.

“I’ve seen over the past several decades how important this program is,” Calfee said. “The number one concern from woodland owners across the state is the property tax burden.”

According to the forester, the Current Use Advisory Board plays an important role in ensuring that some degree of tax relief is available for those interested in the long-term conservation of their woodlands.

As real estate booms have come and gone in Vermont, Calfee says that the program contributes to the state’s ongoing goal to balance conservation and development.

“This is a phenomenal program that helps people understand the long term management of their woods,” Calfee said. “It really inspires stewardship.”

Still, the program does not simply provide tax relief without responsibility according to Calfee.

“The program was set up as a contract between woodland owners,” he said. “In exchange for that tax equity, you agree to manage your land responsibly and actually produce products that go into the economy, so it helps the state in that way too.”

The program can play a particularly important role in the Northshire, Calfee says, due to a steadily growing interest in residential development.

“I’ve been a forester working in the forest land program for almost 30 years now, so I’ve seen the impact it has on both landowners and the environment,” Calfee said. “I think in the Manchester and Dorset area, we feel the pressure of subdivision and development more than most.”

Though the forester has not served the State of Vermont in this capacity before, Calfee says he looks forward to the opportunity.

“Every patriotic Vermonter has to serve when they ask for your expertise to assist in the operations of the State,” he said.

While the day to day operations of the Current Use Advisory Board may not be “all that exciting” to the larger community, Calfee insists that the program plays an important role in preserving the Green Mountain landscape.

“We all use wood products every day, and we depend on the forests for so many things,” he said. “I’m certainly working in many different ways to see that the industry succeeds and grows in a way that protects our forests for both landowners, and the public, to enjoy.”

Reach Cherise Madigan at cmadigan@manchesterjournal.com, or by phone at 802-490-6471.

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