Forest management plans and SFIA registration

Tony Miller explaining plan to landowner

To be eligible for SFIA, you must have a forest management plan, also called a woodland stewardship plan, prepared by a DNR-approved plan writer. A woodland stewardship plan is a written document that outlines your intentions for managing your woods. Your land management goals set the tone for the plan, and the final document helps you better understand your land and how to improve it.

When you request a woodland stewardship plan, a DNR-approved plan writer walks your woods, describes and maps the plants, trees, and soils, and prepares a 12- to 30-page forest management plan that includes resources to help you achieve your goals based on the current conditions of your woods.

You must implement your plan to remain eligible for SFIA. Implementation can mean various things and depends on your management goals—maybe you build a trail, set up a thinning, remove invasive species, or plant new trees. After reading your plan's recommendations, you decide which actions to complete. The point is to put good woodland stewardship into practice on your land.

Having a woodland stewardship plan ensures that you fulfill the purpose of SFIA, which is to encourage long-term sustainable woodland management. A plan also makes you eligible to receive assistance from federal and state agencies.

To remain eligible for SFIA, landowner need a new plan every 10 years.

Registering your woodland stewardship plan

Your woodland stewardship plan must be less than 10 years old and registered with the DNR to be eligible for SFIA.

When you register your plan, a DNR forester reviews it to ensure the plan is eligible for SFIA and meets federal and state standards. If the plan is missing any information, the DNR forester works with the original plan writer to ensure you have an accurate, useful plan that is also SFIA compliant. Your woodland stewardship plan must be registered with the DNR before approval of your SFIA application.

Your plan writer should submit your plan to the DNR for registration. However, you must instruct your plan writer to do this and tell them you are interested in SFIA. A reminder letter will be sent from the DNR when your plan expires (plans expire in 10 years).

Do not wait until the last minute to contact a plan writer. Depending on the circumstance, it can take several months for a plan writer to complete your plan.

Can't find your plan?

woodland stewardship plans typically are 12 to 30 pages long and compiled in a large, three-ring binder titled "Woodland Stewardship Plan." The binder also includes a map and general reference material about managing your woods.

If you cannot find your plan, contact your plan writer and ask for an electronic copy. If you don't remember who your plan writer is, the DNR may be able to help you locate them. Include the following information in your email to [email protected]:

  • Your full name and your spouse's name (if applicable)
  • Your official mailing address
  • The county where your land is located
  • The approximate number of acres, or a rough idea of how many acres, you have in the plan

If you cannot locate your plan or the plan writer, and your plan is not currently registered with the DNR, you must have a new plan written. Contact a DNR-approved plan writer ASAP.

Buying land enrolled in SFIA

When you buy land enrolled in SFIA, you are not required to apply for SFIA. However, the property is still bound by the covenant restrictions until the covenant is released by the Department of Revenue.

To receive SFIA payments, you must:

  • Apply for a name change using the SFIA Enrollment Application form located on the Department of Revenue’s Sustainable Forest Incentive Act webpage.
  • Transfer a current woodland stewardship plan registered with the DNR into your name, or register a new plan with the DNR.  
  • Follow recommendations in the management plan.

Contact the previous landowner to get a copy of the plan. If the previous landowner cannot send you the plan, have them give DNR permission – by email or phone – and we will send you a copy of the plan and transfer it into your name. Send emails to [email protected]

Additional information

For more information regarding applications, covenants, payments, important dates, and resources, visit the Department of Revenue Sustainable Forest Incentive Act webpage for information regarding applications, covenants, payments, important dates, and resources.

Contact [email protected] opens in a new browser tab if you have any questions or need additional information.

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