Frequently Asked Questions:

FAQ 1:  Who do we contact, regarding available, cost-share programs?

Answer 1:  Contact Parks Brigman at 605-394-2395.  Parks is the Forest Stewardship Coordinator – State of South Dakota Resource Conservation & Forestry Division and a member of the SD Tree Farm Advisory Committee.


FAQ 2:  Is there cost-share funding available for forestry treatments and who do we contact for cost-share options?

Answer 2:  Federal and state cost-share funding is typically available, but the amounts vary from year to year.  Most federal funding is through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).  Regarding “local” funding sources, the South Dakota Family Forest Association (SDFFA) is presently developing a web-based process to provide real-time, cost-share information, along with application advice.  Currently, Parks Brigman, the Forest Stewardship Coordinator, for the State of SD Resource Conservation & Forestry Division, maintains a list of funding sources.  He can be contacted at 605-394-2395.


FAQ 3:  Can I get technical information to help implement my management plan and will there be a cost to me?

Answer 3:  Yes, and maybe.  Professional foresters are available and, for some activities, such as contract development and oversight, are highly recommended.  A consulting fee would be required for preparing and administering a timber-sale contract or a pre-commercial thinning contract.  A telephone consultation would probably be “no charge.”  Further, a significant amount of technical information is free and available on state and national, tree-farm websites or available from the SD Division of Resource Conservation & Forestry Division (Parks Brigman, Forest Stewardship Coordinator – 605-394-2395).


FAQ 4:  Can the tree-farm certification (number/certificate) be transferred?

Answer 4:  a) To a family member?  Yes, as long as a family member agrees with, and continues to actively implement, the management plan’s goals / objectives.
b)  To a non-relative buyer?  No.  If the tree farm is sold, to a buyer who is not a family member, tree farm membership is not transferable.  However, the new owner may apply for tree-farm membership, which will require compliance with all membership-application requirements.  Note: Portions of the previous owner’s forest management plan, potentially, can be used as the basis for a new tree-farm application. 


FAQ 5:  Is there a minimum, acreage requirement, to join the South Dakota Tree Farm Program?

Answer 5:  A minimum of ten (10), contiguous acres of forested land is required to become a member of both the SD Family Forests Association (SDFFA), administrator of the SD Tree Farm Program, and the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), the national tree-farm organization.

FAQ 6:  What does tree-farm membership cost me?

Answer 6:  There is currently no annual, membership fee.  However, to become a tree-farm member, you must have a management plan, generally prepared by a professional forester.  You are responsible to pay the cost or the cost-share portion of your management plan’s preparation.  Future, major updates would be at your cost.


FAQ 7:  Taking into consideration the SD Family Forests Association’s cost-share program, how much will it cost me for my initial management plan?   What is the minimum acreage to qualify for cost-share funding?


Answer 7:  Management plan costs may vary for a number of different factors.  Total acreage, however, is the main driver of the cost of plan preparation.  SDFFA cost-share is based solely on total acreage, with forty (40), forested acres being required.  Twenty (20) acres of forested land is required to receive cost-share from the SD Resource Conservation & Forestry Division.  Landowners are required to pay at least 25% of the total cost of their management plan’s preparation.  For example, for seventy (70) acres or less, typically, the total cost of a management plan will be approximately $1000.00, of which the landowner would be responsible for $250.00.


FAQ 8:  Is my donation, to the South Dakota Family Forests Association (SDFFA), tax deductible?

Answer 8:  Yes.  The SDFFA is classified as a nonprofit, 501(c) 3 corporation, by the IRS.  Thus, your donation is 100% tax deductible.


FAQ 9:  Will membership in the SD Tree Farm Program help obtain agricultural (AG) property-tax classification, for my property?

Answer 9:  Each Black-Hills county has different AG, property-tax requirements and we suggest contacting the applicable county office for further details. 


FAQ 10:  Regarding management-plan preparation and daily consultation, can I use any forester of my choosing?

Answer 10:  Yes.  However, not all professional foresters are certified tree-farm inspectors.  A certified tree-farm inspector has competed training courses from the national organization, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS).  You will be able to choose from a list of local, certified tree-farm inspectors.  If needed, the SD Family Forests Association (SDFFA) can assist you in selecting a qualified inspector.


FAQ 11:  Who from the tree-farm organization can come on my land?

Answer 11:  Typically, access to your land is limited to your consulting / inspecting forester, arranged at your convenience.  As a certified, tree-farm member, your tree farm may be selected by the national, American Tree Farm System (ATFS) organization to be assessed.  In this case, a small team (i.e. 5-6 people) would conduct an onsite visit of your property.  You would be given proper notification of this review, well in advance of the field visit.


FAQ 12:  What is the meaning of “tree-farm certification?”

Answer 12:  “Certification” means that your forest land is managed in an environmentally, sustainable manner and has achieved an international “Standards of Sustainability” designation.  Forest certification programs are market driven by consumers, who want assurances that wood products are sourced from sustainably, managed forests.


FAQ 13:  My land is a combination of meadow and forest.  Under the SD Tree Farm Program, can I still utilize the open meadow for grazing cattle?


Answer 13:  Yes.  Your consulting forester can incorporate cattle-grazing objectives into your management plan.