Monday, October 31, 2016

Forest Service 2016 Timber Tax Tips Bulletin Available

Dr. Linda Wang, National Timber Tax Specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, has finalized Tax Tips for Forest Landowners for the 2016 Tax Year. This publication reviews the major Federal income tax laws to help you file your 2016 income tax return. Although tax laws on timber transactions are not common knowledge, they are an important part of the ongoing cost of owning and managing timber, engaging in forest stewardship activities, and complying with tax law.

Did you know that timber sale income can be treated as capital gains? If you aren’t familiar with this part of the tax code, now is your chance to talk to your tax accountant about it, as there are a few extra steps that you will need to do to take advantage of this benefit.

There are certain eligibility requirements around accessing the benefits of capital gains.
·         - You must have purchased your land at least a year ago, or, if you received it as a gift, either you or the gifter must have owned the land for at least a year.
·         - Note: If you inherited your land, there is not a holding period requirement.
·         - You must not be organized as a corporation for tax purposes.

With capital gains, you might also want to think about your basis. The American Forest Foundation has additional resources on basis including an online video on Timber Tax Basis. 

For more on taxes go to the National Timber Tax Website.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Deer Vehicle Collisions

I seem to be seeing a lot of deer hit along the roadways these days. Is that evidence that our deer numbers are up? In a recent article, released by State Farm Insurance Company, Pennsylvania moved up to third place in the nation when comparing all states in the likelihood of having a deer vehicle collision. The numbers also included collisions with elk and moose as well. West Virginia and Montana were the only states ahead of Pennsylvania. The numbers were generated from claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration. 

This time of year has been shown to have the highest incidence. This is because of two reasons, first, deer are active at dawn and dusk which, as the days shorten, happens to occur when most drivers are on the road during rush hour. Second, deer also become more active this time or year with the occurrence of the breeding season.

I have provided the full article below. 

In many U.S. states, drivers are all too familiar with deer crossing signs, but do they really know how close the danger may be? State Farm has released its annual deer claim study, which ranks states by the potential drivers had of hitting a large animal, including deer, elk and moose over a given time period. On average, one of every 41 West Virginia drivers will have an insurance claim for damage caused by a collision with a deer in 2016.

The top five states a driver was most likely to have a claim from a collision with a deer, elk or moose in the 2015-2016 study are:

Rank    State    2015-16 Odds   Percent Change from 2014-15
1 West Virginia, 1 in 41, 5.4% More Likely
2 Montana, 1 in 58, 9.1% More Likely
3 Pennsylvania, 1 in 67, 5.8% More Likely
4 Iowa, 1 in 68, 1.4% Less Likely
5 South Dakota, 1 in 70, 4.7% More Likely

Pennsylvania and Iowa have switched positions on the top ten list of states where drivers were more likely to collide with a deer, while Wyoming moved into the top ten at number eight. South Carolina is no longer in the top ten and thirteen states had no change in ranking.

The likelihood of colliding with a large animal more than doubles during the months of October, November, and December; during deer mating season. Whether you hit a large animal or it jumps into the side of your vehicle, such collisions can cause significant injuries and property damage. No matter where you live, it’s important to keep your eyes up and focus on the road, helping you take action in the event a large animal is suddenly in your path.

Some other tips to help keep drivers safe include:
•Slow down, particularly at dusk and dawn
•If you see one deer, be prepared for more deer to cross the road
•Pay attention to deer crossing signs
•Always buckle up, every trip, every time
•Use your high beams to see farther, except when there is oncoming traffic
•Brake if you can, but avoid swerving, which could result in a more severe crash
•Remain focused on the road, scanning for hazards, including animals
•Avoid distractions, like devices or eating, which might cause you to miss seeing an animal
•Do not rely on products such as deer whistles, which are not proven effective
•If riding a motorcycle, always wear protective gear and keep focus on the road ahead

“We know there is an increased risk of collision with deer around dawn and dusk, and also during the October-December breeding season,” said Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm. “However, drivers should be engaged, alert and on the lookout at all times, because you never know when you may need to react to a deer or any other obstacle that may suddenly be in your path.”

More 2016 State Farm deer collisions facts:
The national average cost per claim for 2015-2016 was $3,995.08, down just slightly from $4,135 in 2014-2015.
The months when most drivers experienced collisions with a deer, elk or moose in the U.S., mostly due to deer mating season, were:

Using its claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm, the nation’s leading auto insurer, calculates the chances of any single American motorist striking a deer, elk or moose during the time frame of July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The data has been projected for the insurance industry as a whole, based on the State Farm personal vehicle market penetration within each state. The State Farm data is based on comprehensive and collision claims only. Claims involving policyholders with liability insurance coverage only are not included.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Wood Energy Events Showcase Bioenergy

If you ever thought about using wood for energy, Penn State Extension has some great opportunities coming up this October.

Would you like to learn how advanced wood heat can help your school, business, or institution? The PA Wood Energy Team is hosting a series of educational events in recognition of the observance of National Bioenergy Day on October 19th. 

First, an "Advanced Wood Energy for Schools, Businesses, and Communities" workshop, co-sponsored by the Northern Tier Hardwood Association, is scheduled for October 15th from 8:30 am - 2:30 pm.  Learn how to save money on heating costs and transform operations to a renewable and sustainable source while supporting the local economy and the environment by helping to create healthier forests. Topics of presentations include the availability and sustainability of biomass fuels, advanced systems for wood heat, and project development considerations. There will also be educational and vendor displays.  Registration is $10, and includes lunch and a wood heat system tour.  Register online at

Second, a "National Bioenergy Day Celebration" is planned for Caledonia State Park (near Gettysburg) on October 19th from 10am-3pm, where information, displays, and informal tours of the park's wood energy system will be given.  Come and go as time permits, no registration required. 

Last, we have a second "Advanced Wood Energy for Schools, Businesses, andCommunities" workshop scheduled for October 22nd from 8:30 am - 2:30 pm at West Branch School District in Morrisdale.  The school's brand new bioamss heating system will be featured along with presentations and discussion on wood energy systems and project opportunities.  Registration is $10, and includes lunch and a wood heat system tour.  Register online at

Dan Ciolkosz, Penn State Extension, and Sarah Hall-Bagdonas, Northern Tier Hardwood Association