by Meredith Longoria
Conservation Initiatives Specialist
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]A landowner’s ability to manage property for wildlife habitat as an agricultural practice is unique to Texas. Under wildlife management tax valuation, just as under agriculture valuation, the ad valorem tax is assessed on production value not on market value.” [/pullquote]
Qualifying the Land
The land must be appraised for agriculture or timber use before a landowner can apply for wildlife management tax valuation. If it’s not, landowners must go through the five-year process of establishing agricultural use by practicing some form of ag production such as livestock or crop production. The requirements for establishing an agricultural valuation vary by county, so landowners should consult with their county appraisal district for these requirements.
In some cases, minimum acreage may apply. Landowners should contact their local wildlife biologist or County Appraisal District for the specific requirements.
Getting the Forms Together
Applying for wildlife management as an agricultural practice for ad valorem tax purposes isn’t difficult. It’s not necessary for a wildlife biologist to come inspect the property, although it may be helpful. Once landowners understand the process and the requirements, they can submit their own applications.
1-d-1 Open Space Appraisal Application
Two forms are required in order to apply for wildlife management appraisal. The first is the 1-d-1 Open Space Appraisal Application. This form is available from your county appraisal district. The landowner needs to fill it in and indicate that wildlife management will be the agricultural practice employed on the property.
Wildlife Management Plan
The second form is the wildlife management plan. This form must be filled in and attached to the 1-d-1 Open Space Appraisal Application. It’s available online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us. Both forms need to be turned in to your county’s chief appraiser before May 1.
Filling in the wildlife management plan form isn’t time consuming or difficult. Please note that the form is for statewide use, so not everything will be applicable to every part of Texas, and not every practice will be applicable to every landowner. The law only requires a landowner to do three of seven practices, and the form covers all seven. Consequently, many of the pages will be left blank.
Identifying Wildlife Management Practices
Again, the law requires landowners to conduct three of seven wildlife management practices: supplemental food, supplemental shelter, supplemental water, habitat control, erosion control, predator control and conducting at least one census annually.
Before completing the wildlife management plan, landowners should become familiar with each practice and what it entails. Check out Guidelines for Qualification of Agricultural Lands in Wildlife Management Use on the TPWD website.
When developing a plan, keep a few things in mind. The wildlife species landowners choose to manage for must be native species. Additionally, wildlife management practices must reach a certain “intensity level,” appropriate for the property’s size, the species and the habitat present.
In other words, choose to manage for a species that has a home range compatible with the size of your property or choose to provide habitat components for a wider-ranging species that may only be present seasonally or that may require a larger area to fulfill its food and space requirements. Even with suitable habitat, wide-ranging animals such as white-tailed deer may simply visit a small property to obtain certain resources instead of living there full time.
Good habitat benefits all wildlife species, so landowners can still enjoy the presence of wide-ranging species on their property even though they may not be the focus of the management plan.
Completing the Wildlife Management Plan
Remember, the wildlife management plan is the landowner’s, not the chief appraiser’s or TPWD’s; therefore, it should meet your goals and objectives. It’s also important for you to know why you’re employing a particular management practice.
Before starting, think about what you enjoy about your land and what you want to accomplish on the land. Do you want to sit on the porch and watch ducks land on the tank or watch songbirds from your kitchen window? Do you wish to take your grandchildren hunting? The answer to these sorts of questions is your goal.
Now, think about the steps necessary to accomplish this goal. What will you have to do to achieve your goal? When you have the answers, you have your objectives.
Now that you’ve established the goals and the objectives, the rest comes easily. Match each of your objectives to one of the seven practices. Fill in your goals and objectives in the space provided. Check the boxes next to the management practices you intend to do. Next, go to each of those sections in the form and check off the activities you’ll be conducting to meet your goals and objectives. Remember, most of the form will be left blank. When you’re finished, sign and date the form, and attach it to your 1-d-1 Open Space Appraisal Application. Your packet is now ready to submit to the county appraisal district Don’t forget that May 1 is the deadline.
The Next Steps
The county determines what happens next. Some counties send letters acknowledging receipt and approval of applications. Others do not. Some counties notify landowners only if their applications have been rejected.
If a landowner meets the criteria and still receives a notice of denial, generally this means the county appraisal district wants more information. If this occurs make an appointment with your county appraisal district to discuss the problems. Usually, this informal meeting is all that’s required to take care of things. If not, you will have the opportunity to present your information before the appraisal review board.
A wildlife management plan is a road map that helps achieve your goals and objectives for your property, making the land the most it can be for wildlife and for you.
For more information about wildlife programs in the area, call the TPWD District Wildlife Office in La Grange at 979-968-6591, contact the Urban Wildlife Program at 210-688-6447, or find your local biologist at Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.