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Land Management

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The "estate" in real estate

The term estate tends to conjure up images of a big, fancy home on a lot of land. But for the purposes of this column we will consider an estate to be land and any structures either existing or planned.  

The focus is land management but it includes the infrastructure too, because the impact of man-made infrastructure on a property can be profound. It affects ecosystem health, real estate value, as well as, the overall functionality and enjoyment of the property. So a land manager should consider the infrastructure of their property, both current and future, as well as the natural resources and ecosystem health. To this end it is important to develop a management plan which essentially functions as an inventory and an assessment of the property, as well as a plan for the future. 

 The first step in developing an estate management plan is to construct a map of the estate. This base map should identify the location, shape and size of man-made infrastructure, as well as the geologic and natural resource features of the property. The map with its features will need to be relatively accurate in shape, dimension and direction. This can be accomplished with a good compass and a “pacing pole” used to establish sample lines across your property from one boundary to the other, at regular intervals. All along these sample lines and at regular intervals you will collect data, make notes of features and even draw features on a sketch map. You will then be able to use the information collected in the field, to depict the size and location of the various property features, in relation to the distance from the boundaries, on a more accurate map. 

While traversing the property in the manner above you can establish sample plots, at random intervals, for more in-depth data collection. The data you collect from sample plots along the sample lines can be worked up into decent estimates of the types, quantity and quality of various natural resources or other features of the property. You can derive estimates for timber, wildlife, water, grazing forage, noxious weeds, and much more.  Some information will relate to the size of relatively homogeneous areas but there could also be in-depth analysis of natural resources such as timber types and volumes. If the sample plots are set up in a more permanent manner, you can monitor and measure change over time too. The level of detail will depend on the time and effort you want to put into learning the techniques, along with collecting and analyzing the data.

I also suggest that you create an overlay for your base map depicting potential lines of subdivision whether you intend to subdivide or not. It is important to remember that while you are currently the Estate Manager, this is a temporary trust and sooner or later someone else will be in charge. Future owners or inheritors of the land may want to subdivide for real estate development, to pass down the property to multiple heirs, or in the event of financial hardship, have the option to sell a portion of the property rather than the entire property, to meet those financial needs. 

It is also important if you wish to prevent future subdivision and/or development of the land. There are several ways to accomplish this but in each it will be helpful, if not necessary, to know where the potential lines of subdivision are (future column topic). If you were to build structures, roads, fencing, etc… without consideration to the location of potential lines of subdivision, it could negatively affect the property.

 Now that you have a base map with subdivision overlay and an inventory, you can begin to develop a plan for the future of the estate. This plan may be to harvest some timber, create a building site, construct roads, create a pond, or fence an area for livestock, but the important thing is to get it into a management plan. This will help ensure that development and utilization of the property is not done in a “willy-nilly” fashion but is preformed in a well-planned manner. 

Using the base map and the overlay showing potential lines of subdivision,  you can now construct another layer depicting the location of planned infrastructure from the management plan. Structures are best placed at least a hundred feet away from lines of subdivision, but the closer to the center of the potential parcel the better for the sake of privacy and view shed considerations. 

It is also important to keep in mind that wells and septic systems are regulated with respect to how far away from each other they are located, and septic systems must be a certain distance from the house, property boundaries and water bodies. In addition, septic systems must be permitted and will not be permitted without a percolation test, which determines if the soils are adequate for the septic system to function. So it is important to consider the drainage capabilities of the soil where you plan to locate a septic system. 

This is also important in considering road construction, both in locating and designing the road and its drainage features. Roads are best located along existing lines of subdivision and/or potential lines of subdivision when possible. This will ensure that if a parcel is subdivided out, it will not have easements through it for other owners to use, thus negatively affecting the value, privacy and enjoyment of the property. Locating roads along boundaries or potential boundaries will also provide for access to multiple parcels with minimal road construction.

Development a Management Plan which is acceptable to government agencies, for the Forest Stewardship Program and/or tax exemptions, must be done by certified land managers who are registered with the state. Most land owners acting as their own land manager will not be able to produce results with the statistical validity and computational accuracy for many applications. It is highly recommended that land owners employ foresters, civil engineers, environment consultants, certified contractors, etc to implement complicated infrastructure projects, timber harvest and more.

This column is intended to give general guidelines for creating a basic management plan but cannot substitute for well-trained and experienced professionals. Due to word limits and time constraints, the information in this article does not contain the level of detail necessary for an untrained Land Manager to go out and perform some of the tasks discussed. If you would like more information and detail regarding the subjects in this article and how to perform them, please go to my web site at www.NorthIdahoLandMan.com  or call me at 208-263-6802.

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Author info

Michael White Michael White is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker - Sterling Society and a consultant for Northwest Group In-Land. He has a BS in Forest Resources & Ecosystem Management and specializes in land, ranches and homes with acreage.

Tagged as:

land management, infrastructure, management plant

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