Sightline Express
In This Issue
Thank you!
New Year, New Forms
Green Building
Estate Tax
Management Plan Template
Contact Us

Victoria Lockhart

Certification Manager

(T) 202 463 2738

January 2011

We hope you enjoy the January edition of Sightline Express, a e-newsletter exclusively for American Tree Farm System Inspectors. Past editions are available online at the Tree Farm website -

Happy Holidays from the American Tree Farm System 
Thank you for all your hard work in 2010! Inspectors are the backbone of the American Tree Farm System and landowners greatly appreciate your efforts!

The American Forest Foundation will be working hard in 2011 to make sure that we are meeting your needs as volunteers and finding new ways to support our inspectors in their efforts to educate landowners on being good stewards of their forests.

We hope that you had a safe and happy holiday season! We are looking forward to working with you in the coming year.
New Year, New Forms
2010 was our year to transition to using the new Standards (2010 - 2015 AFF Standards of Sustainability). In 2011, please be sure to use the update 004 form and the 2010 Standards for Tree Farm inspections. Any inspections in 2011 and on may only be conducted by inspectors trained to the 2010 Standards. Training is still available (online and in-person workshops) for inspectors who are interested. Please email ATFS staff or your state committee representative for more information.
USGBC Forest Certification Benchmarks Vote Results
We announced in the October edition of Sightline Express that the US Green Building Council (USGBC) was taking taking their Forest Certification Benchmarks to ballot after over two years of development. The vote was to approve the benchmark process to evaluate which forest certification systems USGBC would recognize in their LEED green building rating programs. Recognition in LEED will mark the opening of an important market for Tree Farmers wood products. AFF, working with our partners, Tree Farmers, state committees and inspectors, submitted comments during the four public comment periods and worked to ensure family forest owners have their voice heard in the growing green building market.  
Estate Tax Policy Update 
The House of Representatives and Senate recently passed a large tax bill, which includes a provision that sets the estate tax exemption level at $5 million and a 35 percent tax rate for the next two years.  We expect the President to sign the bill into law shortly. Had Congress not taken action before the end of the year, the estate tax levels would have reverted back to 2001 levels, a high tax rate of 55 percent and a lower exemption level of $1 million.

 We have been pushing for months to urge Congress to fix the estate tax for America's family forests.  Tree Farmers sent more than 1000 letters and emails to Capitol Hill, and several Tree Farmers met with their members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to talk about the estate tax in May and in December.  We also ran ads about the estate tax in several key Congressional districts and launched a video on  Your voices have been heard, and this lower tax rate and higher exemption level will help many family forest owners, who may unfortunately face the estate tax in the next two years, keep their forest as forest and land in the family.
While the 2-year fix to raise the exemption level to $5 million and lower the tax rate to 35 percent is a good start, in the next year, we'll also continue to work to get Congress to pass a long-term solution to fix the estate tax for family forests.  Thank you to our grassroots leaders for your ongoing advocacy work and support for our estate tax campaign.
Management Plan Guidance for Carbon Sequestration 
Do you have any landowners who are interested in participating in carbon markets? The American Forest Foundation has sponsored the development of a carbon sequestration guidance document for inspectors and landowners. Tom Carignan, a consulting forester and ATFS Inspector, said this about the tool, "Thanks for preparing the 'Management Plan Guidance Supplement for Carbon Sequestration'.  As a consulting forester, I find it most helpful". Please visit the ATFS Inspectors Corner on the Tree Farm website at This document has useful information on how carbon can be a part of an management plan, how forest carbon can be measured, and the steps you need to take to sell carbon credits from your forest.
Management Plan Template Coming Soon!

ATFS staff have been working with the US Forest Service (State & Private Forestry) and the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a common management plan template to be used as a tool for landowners and foresters. The template will ensure that landowners are able to access Forest Stewardship, Tree Farm and NRCS cost-share programs. Use of the template will not mean that a property is automatically enrolled in any program, just that the plan writer and landowner do not have to have the added burden of developing multiple plans for multiple programs for a single property.


We have sent the draft template out for state committee input and will be compiling any suggestions in January 2011. We hope to have the template ready for distribution in early 2011.


This document is meant to be a tool for landowners and foresters and will not be required. Until the template is ready, please use the current template and management plan addendum together to meet the 2010 Standards. These documents are available on the Tree Farm website -

Thank you for your participation as an inspector with the American Tree Farm System! Your interaction with family woodland owners is helping to improve the sustainability of our forest resources across the U.S.
As always, check out the latest news of what's happening at the American Forest Foundation on our website -
Please feel free to contact us at any time with any questions or concerns.