Tax Valuation for Wildlife Management FAQ
- How do I apply for a wildlife management appraisal? What forms are required,
and where do I get them?
- To apply for property tax appraisal of open spaced lands as authorized by
Section 1-d-1 of the Texas Constitution, including appraisal of agricultural lands,
timber lands, or land used for wildlife management,, a landowner must request a 1-d-1
Open Space Appraisal Application from the County Appraisal District. Only properties
that are currently being appraised as agricultural lands or timber lands may convert
to appraisal based on wildlife management. Landowners wishing to apply for wildlife
management appraisal must include with their application a wildlife management plan.
An approved wildlife management plan form may be obtained on the TPWD website at:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/land/private/agricultural_land/. By law,
all applications must be submitted to the appraisal district by May 1 of each year.
TPWD has no role in deciding whether or not a property owner is approved, so no
forms should be returned to TPWD.
- How many years does it take to get an agricultural appraisal? Can I use
wildlife management to qualify?
- Land is qualified for agricultural appraisal based on a 7 year rotation
cycle. This cycle applies only to the land, not the landowner. It does not start
over with a new landowner. Out of every 7 years, the land may be deferred (i.e.
rested, lie fallow, or "do nothing") for 2 years. In order to quality for agriculture
appraisal, the landowner must be doing an active agricultural practice for 5 years
and then apply for the appraisal.
- Is there a minimum acreage requirement? What if I own several adjacent
- Tracts of land that are adjacent and under the same ownership qualify
as one tract of land. For properties that have been reduced in acreage since the
previous tax year, there are minimum acreage requirements. Please check with your
county appraisal district for those minimum acreages as they depend on the appraisal
region in which the property is located. For all other properties, there is no
minimum acreage requirement.
- Can landowners in wildlife management property association submit just
one wildlife management plan?
- Landowners in a wildlife management property association can submit one
wildlife management plan for the group, but every landowner is required to sign it.
The same is true of the annual report - all landowners must sign it if only one
report is submitted.
- Does everyone in a wildlife management property association have to be
doing three practices on their property or can one practice cover several landowners?
- These types of property owner associations qualify with lower acreages
because landowners are legally obligated to do wildlife management. There will
be two levels of management in the association: large-scale, neighborhood-wide
practices (such as deer management) and smaller-scale, individual landowner practices
(such as supplemental feeding of songbirds). Landowners need to be actively
doing 3 practices on their own property while participating at some other level
of intensity as determined by the neighborhood in the overall management.
- May I write my own wildlife management plan or do I have to consult with
TPWD and have them write a plan? Do I need to get TPWD approval on my plan?
- The law does not require consultation with TPWD, nor does it require
TPWD to approve your plan. As a landowner you are able to write your own
wildlife management plan as long as it is completed on the TPWD wildlife
management plan form. TPWD biologists are available to work with all landowners,
but it is not required.
- Can the appraisal districts require the use their own forms for a
wildlife management plan? What about requiring additional information such
as maps and aerial photos?
- No. The law allows the appraisal districts to accept plans on forms
other than the TPWD form if they contain all the information required on the
TPWD wildlife management form. Appraisal districts may require the use of the
TPWD wildlife management plan form but they cannot require the use of any other
form. The law allows the Chief Appraiser to request additional information
if necessary to determine qualification, but if a landowner has properly
filled in the 1-d-1 Open Space Appraisal Application, and the TPWD form
for a wildlife management plan, no additional information should be
required. This is also true of the Annual Report form. Appraisal Districts
can request an annual report, and when they do it must be submitted on the
TPWD annual report form which is
available on the TPWD website at:
- What happens after I turn in all my paperwork? Is there anything in
particular that the county is looking for? How do I know if I was accepted?
- This varies from county to county. In general, a landowner is
accepted unless they hear otherwise. The county will be primarily looking
to see if the landowner meets the criteri
- That is, that the land is
already appraised for agricultural or timber use; the wildlife management
plan states the landowner's goals and the native species that are being
managed and identifies the specific wildlife management practices and
activities to be implemented that are consistent with the Comprehensive
Wildlife Management Planning Guidelines for the ecoregion in which the
tract of land is located; and if the property has had a reduction in
acreage since the previous tax year that the land meets minimum size
- What happens if I'm rejected?
- If you receive notification from you Appraisal District
that your application has been denied, you should call and schedule
a meeting with the appraiser to find out what the specific problem
is and what needs to be done to correct it. You should take all your
documentation and paperwork with you to the meeting. If you are not
able to resolve the problem, then you have the opportunity to
schedule a formal hearing in front of the Appraisal Review Board
(ARB). Whether or not you employ legal counsel is a personal decision.
- Does the county have to notify me before they come out
and inspect my property?
- Yes. Typically this is done via a "blanket" letter to
all landowners stating only that properties will be inspected sometime
during the year. As a landowner, you do have the right to refuse the
county access, although this is not generally recommended. If you
are concerned about the appraiser's presence on your property, the
best course of action is to request that you be notified prior to
their visit in order for you to be present. That is a reasonable
request that most appraisal offices are happy to accommodate.
- What is the appraiser going to be looking for when they
come out to inspect my property and how often do they come out?
- How often the appraiser comes out to inspect your
property depends entirely upon the county. Typically, the
appraiser is merely there to verify that the landowner is making
a good faith effort to fulfill the wildlife management plan they
submitted to the county with their application. As in all
agricultural endeavors, success is not guaranteed or required.
The law does not require landowners to be successful; it requires
them to make the effort. It is always a good idea to have a
record of expenses incurred, and photos of the various practices
implemented in order to document this good faith effort.
- Can I go back to the Ag Valuation if I no longer want
to continue with my wildlife valuation?
- Since you are still in agriculture, all you will be
doing is changing your agricultural practice from wildlife
management back to something else. You will need to fill in a
new 1-d-1 Open Space Appraisal Application (obtained from your
appraisal office, not TPWD) and fill it in between January 1 and
May 1 of any year.
- If I have cows on my place should I bother with the
- That is a personal decision since the tax rate will stay
the same. One advantage is that the landowner may adjust the stocking
rate and grazing rotation to achieve their individual goals rather than
having to meet the minimum grazing intensity standards for the county.
Properly managed grazing is often used to enhance wildlife habitat
for a diversity of species.
- Can I still have livestock if I use wildlife management to
maintain my land's agricultural valuation?
- Yes. Well managed grazing is often beneficial to maintaining
productive wildlife habitat. Livestock grazing can be a useful tool in
managing food and cover for wildlife.
- Can I plant and harvest pine trees and still be considered
to be under a wildlife management Ag appraisal for tax purposes?
- Yes. Management of timber resources is certainly compatible
with wildlife management.
- What sort of tax savings is involved in converting to the
wildlife management appraisal?
- There is no tax advantage since being appraised for
agriculture or timber is required before conversion to wildlife
management is possible. The law is designed to be revenue neutral,
meaning that whatever the tax rate was before (i.e. improved pasture,
grazing, row crops, timber etc.) that is the rate that will stay
with the land.
- Is conducting a census a required practice for my wildlife
- No. The rules clearly state that the landowner selects at
least 3 of the 7 wildlife management practices - it is the landowner's
choice of which practices to choose and which activities are implemented
to achieve the goals identified in the wildlife management plan.
The choice of wildlife management practices does not have to include
conducting census. However, many landowners do choose to conduct
census counts to gauge their management success, and TPWD
biologists can instruct and mentor landowners in proper
census techniques to develop data on population trends. But due
to limited staff time, TPWD biologists are not available to
conduct census counts for landowners on an annual basis.
- What about non-game species or fish? Can I manage for them?
What are the practices and intensity levels required?
- Yes, landowners may manage for non-game wildlife such
as songbirds, small mammals (rabbits, squirrels, etc.). Brush piles,
supplemental shelter (birdhouses) supplemental feeding, supplemental
water, predator control (cowbird trapping) for instance, are all
very good practices that can make a significant difference
particularly on smaller properties. Check the Guidelines for
Qualification for Wildlife Management on the TPWD website for
the discussions on beneficial practices and activities. Managing
for fish does not qualify for wildlife management, but may qualify
as aquaculture. Check with your county appraisal district office
for the aquaculture requirements.