Iowa DNR's Twitter Iowa DNR's Flicker Iowa DNR's YouTube Iowa DNR's Pinterest Iowa DNR's Facebook | Iowa Outdoors Magazine | News | Contact Us

Site Search  search button

Iowa's Forest Reserve Law

Forest and Fruit Tree Reservations

 In 2011 the Forestry Bureau was tasked with obtaining public comment regarding the Forest Reserve Program. As part of the comment period, a informative power point presentation was developed. If you would like to review the power point it can be found here: 2011 Forest Reserve Power Point

Criteria for establishing and maintaining forest and fruit tree reservations.

Designation. The selection of a forest or fruit tree reservation is the prerogative of the taxpayer and shall not be denied unless the criteria set forth in Iowa Code chapter 441 and these rules have not been satisfied.

Area designated. The area designated as a forest or fruit tree reservation may be less than one legally described tract of land if the minimum acreage requirement of Iowa Code 161.2 is satisfied.

Size of reservation. A forest or fruit tree reservation must be at least 2 acres in size. The area occupied by buildings on the area of the forest or fruit tree reservation may not be included. As used in Iowa Code, the term "contiguous area" means an area of land which is not separated by public roads or streets. A "contiguous area" may include land contained in more than one legal description.

Fencing. It is not mandatory that a forest or fruit tree reservation be fenced. However, it is the taxpayer’s responsibility to ensure that livestock are not permitted on the reservation.

Number of trees. To qualify initially as a forest reservation, a tract of land must contain at least two hundred growing trees on each acre. However, if trees are removed pursuant to Iowa Code, Section 161.4, a taxpayer has up to one year to replace the trees.

Economic gain. As used in Iowa Code, the term "gain from raising fruit or forest trees" means gain from the harvest from trees including but not limited to fruit, nuts, Christmas trees and greens, posts, poles, logs, fuelwood, pulpwood and tree sap.

Ownership. A designated area must remain so under the same ownership for a period of 10 years. If sold prior to the end of the 10 year period, taxes that would have been paid during the past 5 years of that period will be recaptured.

Protection. Areas so designated must be protected from fire and grazing. 

 

The following is the forest reserve law as written in the Code of Iowa. 

FOREST AND FRUIT-TREE RESERVATIONS
10 X 2
This chapter not enacted as a part of this title;
transferred from chapter 161 in Code 1993

  427C.1 	Tax exemption.
  427C.2 	Reservations.
  427C.3 	Forest reservation.
  427C.4 	Removal of trees.
  427C.5 	Forest trees.
  427C.6 	Groves.
  427C.7 	Fruit-tree reservation — duration of exemption.
  427C.8 	Fruit trees.
  427C.9 	Replacing trees.
  427C.10 	Restraint of livestock and limitation on use.
  427C.11 	Penalty.
  427C.12 	Application — inspection — continuation of exemption 
		— recapture of tax.
  427C.13 	Report to department of natural resources.

SEC 427C.1	Tax exemption.
10 X 2 427csec427c.1   427C.1  Tax exemption.
  Any person who establishes a forest or fruit-tree reservation as provided
 in this chapter shall be entitled to the tax exemption provided by law.
  [C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2605; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79,
 81, § 161.1]
  C93, § 427C.1

SEC 427C.2	Reservations.
10 X 2 427csec427c.2   427C.2  Reservations.
  On any tract of land in the state of Iowa, the owner or owners may select
 a permanent forest reservation or reservations, each not less than two 
acres in continuous area, or a fruit-tree reservation or reservations, not 
less than one nor more than ten acres in total area, or both, and upon 
compliance with the provisions of this chapter, such owner or owners shall 
be entitled to the benefits provided by law.
  [S13, § 1400-c; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2606; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71,
73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.2]
  C93, § 427C.2

SEC 427C.3	Forest reservation.
10 X 2 427csec427c.3   427C.3  Forest reservation.
  A forest reservation shall contain not less than two hundred growing 
forest trees on each acre.  If the area selected is a forest containing 
the required number of growing forest trees, it shall be accepted as a 
forest reservation under this chapter provided application is made or on 
file on or before February 1 of the exemption year.  

If any buildings are standing on an area selected as a forest reservation 
under this section or a fruit-tree reservation under section 427C.7 one 
acre of that area shall be excluded from the tax exemption.  However, the 
exclusion of that acre shall not affect the area's meeting the acreage 
requirement of section 427C.2.
  [S13, § 1400-d; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2607; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71,
73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.3]
  84 Acts, ch 1222, § 1
  C93, § 427C.3
	2001 Acts, ch 150, §16, 26

SEC 427C.4	Removal of trees.
10 X 2 427csec427c.4   427C.4  Removal of trees.
  Not more than one-fifth of the total number of trees in any forest 
reservation may be removed in any one year, excepting in cases where the 
trees die naturally.
  [S13, § 1400-e; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2608; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 
73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.4]
  C93, § 427C.4

SEC 427C.5	Forest trees.
10 X 2 427csec427c.5   427C.5  Forest trees.
  The ash, black cherry, black walnut, butternut, catalpa, coffee tree, 
the elms, hackberry, the hickories, honey locust, Norway and Carolina 
poplars, mulberry, the oaks, sugar maple, cottonwood, soft maple, Osage 
orange, basswood, black locust, European larch and other coniferous trees, 
and all other forest trees introduced into the state for experimental 
purposes, shall be considered forest trees within the meaning of this 
chapter.  

In forest reservations which are artificial groves, the willows, 
box elder, and other poplars shall be included among forest trees for the 
purposes of this chapter when they are used as protecting borders not 
exceeding two rows in width around a forest reservation, or when they are 
used as nurse trees for forest trees in such forest reservation, the number
 of such nurse trees not to exceed one hundred on each acre; provided that 
only box elder shall be used as nurse trees.
  [S13, § 1400-f; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2609; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71,
 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.5]
  C93, § 427C.5

SEC 427C.6	Groves.
10 X 2 427csec427c.6   427C.6  Groves.
  The trees of a forest reservation shall be in groves not less than four 
rods wide except when the trees are growing or are planted in or along a 
gully or ditch to control erosion in which case any width will qualify 
provided the area meets the size requirement of two acres.
  [S13, § 1400-g; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2610; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71,
 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.6]
  C93, § 427C.6

SEC 427C.7	Fruit-tree reservation — duration of exemption.
10 X 2 427csec427c.7   427C.7  Fruit-tree reservation — duration of 
exemption.  A fruit-tree reservation shall contain on each acre, at least 
forty apple trees, or seventy other fruit trees, growing under proper care 
and annually pruned and sprayed.  A reservation may be claimed as a 
fruit-tree reservation, under this chapter, for a period of eight years 
after planting provided application is made or on file on or before 
February 1 of the exemption year.
  [S13, § 1400-h; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2611; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71,
 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.7]
  84 Acts, ch 1222, § 2
  C93, § 427C.7
	2001 Acts, ch 150, §17, 26

SEC 427C.8	Fruit trees.
10 X 2 427csec427c.8   427C.8  Fruit trees.
  The cultivated varieties of apples, crabs, plums, cherries, peaches, and 
pears shall be considered fruit trees within the meaning of this chapter.
  [S13, § 1400-i; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2612; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 
73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.8]
  C93, § 427C.8

SEC 427C.9	Replacing trees.
10 X 2 427csec427c.9   427C.9  Replacing trees.
  When any tree or trees on a fruit-tree or forest reservation shall be 
removed or die, the owner or owners of such reservation shall, within one 
year, plant and care for other fruit or forest trees, in order that the 
number of such trees may not fall below that required by this chapter.
  [S13, § 1400-j; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2613; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71,
 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.9]
  C93, § 427C.9

SEC 427C.10	Restraint of livestock and limitation on use.
10 X 2 427csec427c.10   427C.10  Restraint of livestock and limitation on 
use.    Cattle, horses, mules, sheep, goats, ostriches, rheas, emus, and 
swine shall not be permitted upon a fruit-tree or forest reservation.  
Fruit-tree and forest reservations shall not be used for economic gain 
other than the gain from raising fruit or forest trees.
  [S13, § 1400-k; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2614; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 
73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.10]
  84 Acts, ch 1222, § 3
  C93, § 427C.10
  95 Acts, ch 43, §11

Section amended
SEC 427C.11	Penalty.
10 X 2 427csec427c.11   427C.11  Penalty.
  If the owner or owners of a fruit-tree or forest reservation violate any 
provision of this chapter within the two years preceding the making of an 
assessment, the assessor shall not list any tract belonging to such owner 
or owners, as a reservation within the meaning of this chapter, for the 
ensuing two years.
  [S13, § 1400-m; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2615; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 
73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.11]
  C93, § 427C.11

SEC 427C.12	Application — inspection — continuation of exemption 
— recapture of tax.  10 X 2 427csec427c.12   427C.12  Application 
— inspection — continuation of exemption — recapture of tax.
  It shall be the duty of the assessor to secure the facts relative to 
fruit-tree and forest reservations by taking the sworn statement, or 
affirmation, of the owner or owners making application under this chapter; 
and to make special report to the county auditor of all reservations made 
in the county under the provisions of this chapter.

  The board of supervisors shall designate the county conservation board 
or the assessor who shall inspect the area for which an application is 
filed for a fruit-tree or forest reservation tax exemption before the 
application is accepted. Use of aerial photographs may be substituted for 
on-site inspection when appropriate.  The application can only be accepted 
if it meets the criteria established by the natural resource commission to 
be a fruit-tree or forest reservation. Once the application has been 
accepted, the area shall continue to receive the tax exemption during each 
year in which the area is maintained as a fruit-tree or forest reservation 
without the owner having to refile.  

If the property is sold or transferred,
 the seller shall notify the buyer that all, or part of, the property is 
in fruit-tree or forest reservation and subject to the recapture tax 
provisions of this section.  The tax exemption shall continue to be granted
 for the remainder of the eight-year period for fruit-tree reservation and 
for the following years for forest reservation or until the property no 
longer qualifies as a fruit-tree or forest reservation.  The area may be 
inspected each year by the county conservation board or the assessor to 
determine if the area is maintained as a fruit-tree or forest reservation.
  
If the area is not maintained or is used for economic gain other than as 
a fruit-tree reservation during any year of the eight-year exemption period
 and any year of the following five years or as a forest reservation during 
any year for which the exemption is granted and any of the five years 
following those exemption years, the assessor shall assess the property 
for taxation at its fair market value as of January 1 of that year and in 
addition the area shall be subject to a recapture tax.  However, the area 
shall not be subject to the recapture tax if the owner, including one 
possessing under a contract of sale, and the owner's direct antecedents or 
descendants have owned the area for more than ten years.  The tax shall be 
computed by multiplying the consolidated levy for each of those years, if 
any, of the five preceding years for which the area received the exemption 
for fruit-tree or forest reservation times the assessed value of the area 
that would have been taxed but for the tax exemption.  This tax 
shall be entered against the property on the tax list for the current year 
and shall constitute a lien against the property in the same manner as a 
lien for property taxes.  The tax when collected shall be apportioned in 
the manner provided for the apportionment of the property taxes for the 
applicable tax year.
  [S13, § 1400-n; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2616; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 
73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 161.12]
  84 Acts, ch 1222, § 4; 85 Acts, ch 75, §1
  C93, § 427C.12
  95 Acts, ch 156, §1
1995 amendment to unnumbered paragraph 2 applies to sales or transfers on 
or after May 4, 1995; 95 Acts, ch 156, §2
Unnumbered paragraph 2 amended

SEC 427C.13	Report to department of natural resources.
10 X 2 427csec427c.13   427C.13  Report to department of natural resources.
  The county assessor shall keep a record of all forest and fruit-tree 
reservations in the county and submit a report of the reservations to the 
department of natural resources not later than June 15 of each year.
  [S13, § 1400-o; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 2617; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 
73, 75, 77, 79, 81, S81, § 161.13; 81 Acts, ch 117, § 1208]
  C93, § 427C.13

 Chapter 441.22 

  441.22  Forest and fruit-tree reservations.
  Forest and fruit-tree reservations fulfilling the conditions of sections 
427C.1 to 427C.13 shall be exempt from taxation. In all other cases where 
trees are planted upon any tract of land, without regard to area, for 
forest, fruit, shade, or ornamental purposes, or for windbreaks, the 
assessor shall not increase the valuation of  the property because of such 
improvements.
  [S13, § 1400-l; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 7110; C46, § 441.5; C50, 54, 58, 
§ 441.14; C62, 66, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 441.22; 82 Acts, ch 1247, § 3]
  84 Acts, ch 1222, § 8

SEC 441.23	Notice of valuation.

 

 


Menu