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Vermont Timberland Owners' Association, Inc. records, 1915-1996.
Vermont Timberland Owners' Association, Inc.
Library Call Number Copy Material Location
Vermont Historical Society Library  Doc 512  Manuscript  Vault-Manuscript 

Corporate Author : Vermont Timberland Owners' Association, Inc.
Title : Vermont Timberland Owners' Association, Inc. records, 1915-1996.
Physical Description : 7 linear ft.
General Note : Continued in Doc 513-518, MS Size A and D.
Summary :

This collection contains the organizational records of the Vermont Timberland Owners' Association as well as records of a related organization, the Current Use Tax Coalition that was active in the 1980s, and publications from many like-minded organizations.

The VTOA was, at the outset, especially interested in the control of forest fires. The collection includes four maps from the 1930s and 1940s that show location of fire towers in the state. The collection also includes material on the governmental policies toward the taxation of forestland and environmental concerns such as clear cutting, water and air quality, and wildlife habitats.

The Vermont Current Use Tax Coalition was formed on December 13, 1983, by a group of farm and forestland organizations to promote the continuance of the current use program, its funding, and improvement. "Current Use" is a program, begun in 1980, under which farmland and forestland is taxed on its use value rather than on its fair market value. By reducing the local property tax, the state program encourages landowners to make a long-term commitment to keep their land undeveloped and productive.

James E. Wilkinson, natural resource consultant and former Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, was elected chairman of the coalition. Wilkinson was a professional forester with much experience since graduation from Penn State University in 1939. He acted as the coalition's chief legislative spokesman for over eight years carrying on voluminous correspondence, lobbying the legislature, and keeping the membership informed. This collection documents Wilkinson's efforts on behalf of the current use program.

The collection also includes videotapes of the tree farmer of the year for 1986 and 1989.

Biographical or historical data :

The Vermont Timberland Owners' Association was formed in 1915 by owners of large timberlands in Vermont, including the Berlin Mills Co., Connecticut Valley Lumber Co. and Champion International Corp., who were concerned about the lack of forest fire monitoring and control. At that time, much of Vermont had been recently cut over for logs, leaving large tracts of dry, fire-prone logging residue. Several years of dry weather coupled with sparks from steam locomotives resulted in large fires. Private forestland owners organized VTOA to create an early warning system of fire lookout towers and to employ a crew of patrolmen to follow behind trains to spot and extinguish fires. The effort was largely effective and, as membership in the association grew, the scope of protection expanded to include monitoring for harmful forest insects and diseases. As technology improved, VTOA adopted the use of telephones in fire towers by supplying the wire and other hardware. After World War II, the association provided several surplus military trucks to towns for use as fire control vehicles. Eventually the Vermont Forest Service assumed most of the forest protection responsibility for the state's forest. However, VTOA continued into the 1980s providing funding for books and laboratory equipment for insect and disease identification.

Membership numbers remained small, from 26 in 1940 to 28 in 1961 while total acreage covered fluctuated between 400,000 and 500,000 acres. With the advent of use value appraisal for taxation, membership numbers grew from 86 in 1987 to a high of 174 in 1991 while the acreage covered remained about the same. Acquisition of some large tracts for Green Mountain National Forest and the State of Vermont and increasing numbers of smaller tracts due to the improved tax situation probably accounts for the change in numbers without much acreage change. In the 1950s the Vermont Timberland Owners' Association became the sponsor of the Vermont Tree Farm Program, providing funding and administrative support. Since 1975, VTOA was a strong supporter of Use Value Appraisal, a program that allowed well-managed forests to be taxed at the value of their current use rather than potential development value. This program, still active today, has allowed many thousands of acres of woodland in Vermont to remain productive and undeveloped.

On May 17, 1996, Vermont Timberland Owners' Association merged with Vermont Woodland Resources Association and became known as Vermont Woodlands Association (VWA). Today VWA carries on the role of sponsoring the Tree Farm Program and advocates fair taxation of forestland.

Corporate Subject : Vermont Timberland Owners' Association, Inc.
Vermont Woodlands Association.
Current Use Tax Coalition Vt.
Vermont Tree Farm Program.
Subject Term : Forest fires Prevention and control.
Forest management Vermont.
Fire lookout stations Vermont.
Forests and forestry Taxation Vermont.
Forestry law and legislation Vermont.
Added Author : Wilkinson, James E.
Added Author : Current Use Tax Coalition (Vt.)
Vermont Woodlands Association.
Electronic Resource : Click here for full text of finding aid.