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My Healthy Woods

Private lands management in New Jersey

If you own land in the Garden State, you’re in good company. 88,700 private landowners own 1.54 million acres of forestlands in New Jersey.

Why Manage?
Keeping your forest healthy is important to you. Whether you want to maintain wildlife habitat, promote biodiversity, prevent wildfires, produce firewood, or just create an enjoyable place to escape, we can help.

Your forest is a complex system that requires active planning and management to continuously provide benefits. Good management increases water and soil protection, wildlife habitats, windbreaks, aesthetics, as well as forest products. A proactive plan also reduces negative impacts such as hazard trees and insect infestations and outbreaks of disease.

Why hire an Approved Forester?
An approved forester can write a management plan for your woods based on your goals and objectives. New Jersey State Forestry Services maintains a list of foresters: View the list of Approved Foresters. Select a forester just as you would select a lawyer, an architect or an engineer. Work with your forester to write your plan. Additionally, New Jersey State Forestry Services offers cost-share programs that can help you develop a plan with a forester at lower cost to you. Contact your regional NJ State Forestry Services Office for more information.

Assistance to Landowners
Managing your forest may seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there are professionals available to assist you. Management not only yields a healthier, more productive stand of trees, but also may give you money back. A forester from State Forestry Services will meet once with any New Jersey landowner to discuss forest stewardship, explain cost share assistance, and recommend one or more of the following programs:

NJ Forest Stewardship Program


Among the many benefits of participation in this program are the availability of both technical and financial management assistance; environmentally responsible management of New Jersey’s forest resources; active involvement in forest management; public recognition as a steward of the land; and the personal satisfaction of managing forest resources for present and future generations.


Through cost sharing, landowners are refunded up to 75 percent of the cost for a new or revised forest stewardship management plan needed to meet the criteria necessary to participate in the state’s Forest Stewardship Program.


Landowner must follow practices required by an approved forest management plan written by a consulting forester.


Landowner must have a minimum of five forested acres.


Landowners are asked to maintain cost-shared funded practices for 10 years. In addition, it is agreed that the 10-year forest stewardship management plan be implemented to the best of the landowner’s ability.


Regional NJ State Forestry Services Office

NJ Farmland Assessment Program


The Farmland Assessment Act of 1964, amended in 1986, allows woodland owners to develop and implement a state-approved forest management plan to qualify for reduced property taxation.


Woodland owners can be eligible for reduced property taxes if they follow a state-approved forestry plan.


Woodland management plan development, reforestation, timber stand improvement, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, fire hazard reduction,
invasive species control, watershed protection, and wetland restoration all may be eligible.


For woodland the land must have been actively devoted to forestry, agricultural or horticultural use for the two successive years immediately preceding the tax year for which farmland assessment is requested. The area must be at least five acres in size. Annual gross sales of forestry products—in addition to any payments received under a soil conservation program—must average at least $500 plus an additional $.50 per woodland acre for each acre over five, or there must be clear evidence of anticipated yearly gross sales and such payments amounting to at least your minimum gross sales requirement.


Your County Tax Assessor


Forest Legacy Program


Forest Legacy Program identifies and protects environmentally important private forestland threatened by conversion to non-forest.


A private forest landowner may negotiate the sale of selected interests in their forestland, or the sale of their forestlands, to the U.S. Forest Service. Preferably, the federal government would purchase a private forest landowner’s conservation easement. The land would then remain in the possession of the private landowner.


Land must be in a designated Forest Legacy Area.


USDA Forest Service


Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)


EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to landowners to implement management practices on their lands.


Many practices are eligible for cost sharing, including forest management plans, brush removal, and more. Visit the website below for the most recent list of approved practices.

Eligibility All private land in production is eligible, including cropland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest with a forest management plan. Funds are directed to projects that offer the greatest environmental benefits. For woods to qualify for EQIP it must be large enough to be managed as a production unit (a five-acre woodlot is typically not large enough), and participants are subject to the Adjusted Gross Income limits of the Farm Bill.

One- to 10-year contracts. Producers may be eligible for flat rate payments based on average costs of the practices.




Materials for Landowners

Wetlands Best Management Practices: a practical guide outlining the best methods for implementing forest management in New Jersey. This manual provides information for foresters, landowners and others involved in forestry-related activities about the simple, practical methods that can be applied to help minimize the environmental impact of forestry operations.

Atlantic White-cedar Ecology and Best Management Practices Manual

My Healthy Woods: A handbook for family woodland owners managing woods in New Jersey: This 88-page full color manual for private landowners in New Jersey will be published Fall 2015. Call (609) 292-2532 to request a free copy.

Trees of New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic States: This field guide and its companion guide Shrubs and Vines of New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic States are available for $10 each through the Forest Resource Education Center.


Education Programs and Special Events
for Landowners





Backyard Forestry in 90 Minutes

Monthly, Second Thursday 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Forest Resource Education Center Jackson, NJ

Monthly programs for New Jersey landowners and homeowners on forestry topics from pruning to maple sugaring. Free.  (908) 832-2400

NJ Woodland Stewards

Yearly, third weekend in October

Lindwood-MacDonald YMCA Camp near Stokes State Forest  or Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education in Waretown, NJ

This three-day overnight educational and outreach program trains those who love and speak for the woods. Participants are immersed in latest forest and wildlife stewardship principles during hands-on activities and lessons by experts in environmental science. $75, includes meals and accommodations. 30 hours of volunteer service required.

Master Gardener

Varies, contact your county Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office

Varies, contact your county Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office

Master Gardeners are volunteers committed to providing gardening and horticultural information and services to their community.  $250, 60 hours of training.  60 hours of volunteer service required.

Pinelands Short Course

Yearly, March

Stockton College, Galloway, NJ

The Pinelands Short Course includes sessions on wildlife, plants, land-use, and history and culture focusing on the region known as the New Jersey pinelands. $40
(609) 894-7300, ext. 125

Tree Farm Day

Yearly, first Friday in June

Varies, always a site of exceptional forest management

Tour projects by experts in resource management; attend talks on forestry, and wildlife management practices. Outstanding Tree Farm of the Year and Forest Stewardship Landowner of the Year award winners announced. $15

Fall Forestry Festival

Yearly, First Saturday in October 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Forest Resource Education Center Jackson, NJ

Held since 1989, the Fall Forestry Festival features programs, hikes, and activities centered on environmental themes. Enjoy family friendly hayrides, nature crafts, and hands-on demonstrations. FREE   (732) 928-2360

Wild Outdoor Expo

Yearly, second weekend in September

Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area, Jackson, NJ

The Expo helps people connect with the natural world by providing a unique blend of conservation information, education and hands-on opportunities to learn outdoor skills and activities. Numerous environmental and conservation exhibits, demonstrations and seminars are planned for the weekend. Visitors can learn about, and try, a wide array of activities including fishing, hiking, shooting sports, kayaking, camping skills, rock climbing, wildlife watching and much more.


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Last Updated: August 6, 2015