Seasons – November 2022
From the Plateau Land & Wildlife Management Team
November is the perfect balance of fall and winter; it means deer and quail season, brisk weather, time spent with loved ones, and yes, even the beginning of the holiday season – it also means the conclusion of 2022 is on the horizon.
With the changing of the seasons comes another important season – property tax season! Many of you have already received your property tax bills. It is very important that you review your property tax bill and be sure that it accurately reflects the market value of your property and that your agricultural valuation is in place. In this issue of Seasons you will find articles on how to read your property tax bill, how to ensure your record-keeping is adequate and meets compliance standards, information on converting to Wildlife Management and more!
Don’t forget that your property taxes are due by January 31, 2023! If you are thinking about converting to wildlife management in 2023, this fall is the perfect time to start on your Wildlife Management Plan. Plateau is now offering 10% off your Wildlife Management Plan if you make the switch by November 30, 2022 (see more below). If you start early, you will be ready to file your application in early 2023.
Of course, if you have questions or would like to discuss your property tax options with an experienced member of the Plateau team, please give us a call at (512) 894-3479! We will be here when you need us.
Until next Seasons,
The Plateau Team
Table of Contents
On the Record: Best Practices for Annual Wildlife Management Reporting
How to Read Your Property Tax Bill
Fall Wildlife Management Plan Sale
We’re Hiring! Join the Plateau Team!
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: Common Questions about Fencing
News for Texas Landowners
ON THE RECORD: BEST PRACTICES FOR ANNUAL WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT REPORTING
By David Riley, Plateau Staff Biologist II, Associate Wildlife Biologist, & Registered Property Tax Consultant
Most counties require your annual report to be submitted prior to April 30 of the following year – Plateau offers a service to take this weight off your shoulders. A Plateau Annual Report is thoroughly prepared by a Plateau biologist and includes a Texas Parks & Wildlife annual report form, all activity documentation, and the peace of mind that your Wildlife Management Valuation stays in place for only $550.
A well-composed annual report can prevent unnecessary attention from the CAD and is the best way to protect your valuation. Plateau does more than 1100 of these each year. We maintain great relationships with all the CADs and know precisely what information they will want to see.
With more and more CADs requesting this report every year, it is essential that qualifications are met and well documented for each year, and on all wildlife management properties. A well-done and complete annual report can make all the difference. Your annual report is your best opportunity to show the appraisal district what you’re doing and is the only thing they may ever see that shows them your commitment to Wildlife Management.
Record Keeping Tips:
1: Always take photos of your activities
- Take new photos every year even if nothing has changed.
- Be sure to take before and after photos of activities like brush management.
- If you think that it is a wildlife management activity then you should take a photo of it
2: Keep accurate logs of the activities conducted.
- Keep a logbook at the property, or in the vehicle/UTV you use around the property.
- Keep accurate logs at the time you do the activity, so you don’t have to remember it later.
- Follow this link to downloadable activity logs.
3: Refer to your wildlife management plan.
- Your wildlife management plan is your guide to what activities might be best for your targeted species.
- This can help ensure that you are meeting minimum intensity requirements with your activities.
4: Keep receipts for all wildlife management activities.
- This can be for feed, nest box parts, brush management equipment, etc…
5: Organize all documentation by activity.
- This makes it easier for you to see exactly what you have done throughout the year and becomes a checklist to ensure that you meet minimum requirements. (Minimum requirement is three of the seven activity categories)
6: Utilize maps when possible
- Mark areas where feeders, water sources, nest boxes, etc. are located.
- Draw areas where brush management, erosion control, fire ant treatment, etc. occur
If you have questions or would like more information about appropriate Wildlife Management activities for your property, please contact us at (512) 894-3479 or [email protected].
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HOW TO READ YOUR PROPERTY TAX BILL
By Cassie Gresham, Braun & Gresham Principal, Attorney & Counselor
Most landowners can expect to receive their property tax bills in October every year. It is too late to protest your values, but before you pay the bill, I would advise you to check and make sure that it accurately reflects the taxes that you owe. Here is a suggested checklist:
- Does it reflect the correct market value of the property? If you protested your market value, you will want to check to make sure that it reflects the final amount that was agreed to with the appraisal district. If you have an improvement on your land, then you will see three types of market values: (1) Improvement(s) (2) Land around your improvement(s), and (3) Land. If you have an open space valuation on the property, then you won’t pay based on the market value of the land. Instead, you will pay on the “assessed value”.
- Does it show your open space valuation? Check to make sure that your open space valuation (agricultural, wildlife, Ecolab, or timber) is reflected on your tax bill. This typically is shown under the “productivity” or “ag use” category. This will be much lower amount than the market value of the land.
- Does your tax bill reflect your exemptions? If you qualify for a homestead, over 65, or disabled veteran exemption, then they should be reflected on your tax bill. The taxing entities will cap the amount that they assess you if you qualify for a reduction due to your homestead or being over 65. You can apply for your homestead any time during the year and it can be retroactive for up to two years prior to the application.
- Did you receive multiple tax bills? While you only apply for exemptions or open space valuations in the county in which your property is located, you might receive multiple tax bills from different counties. This typically occurs in the case where the school district is located in a different county.
- What is your total assessed (taxable) value? This is the total amount that is used to calculate what you will pay in taxes. For example, your total market value might be $500K for your improvements and your land, but due to your exemptions and open space valuation, you may only be assessed taxes on $250K.
- When are your taxes due? Your taxes are due no later than January 31st of every year. If you pay after this date, then your taxes are delinquent. Paying your taxes on time is really important, even if there is a problem with your values or your bill. If you have an outstanding protest with the appraisal district or a lawsuit and fail to pay your taxes on time, then your protest or suit is automatically dismissed.
Your tax bill is the final look at the amount of taxes that you will pay. It is important that you remember to review your Notice of Appraised Value that comes out each year in April. Each year you have the opportunity to protest the loss of any open space valuation, exemptions, or market value of your improvement(s) and land. Your protest is due May 15th of each year, but no later than 30 days after you receive your Notice of Appraised Value.
If you have questions or concerns about your property tax bill, Braun & Gresham can help. The attorneys at Braun & Gresham are not only experts and innovators in ways to utilize property tax incentives and how to reduce your property taxes, but we also serve as your advocates when you are unfairly taxed. We know the rules and how to use them. We also make sure the taxing authorities follow those rules. Please contact us at (512) 894-5426 or email [email protected].
FALL WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT PLAN SALE
Property tax bills for 2022 should have already been received, or will be arriving soon, and now is a great time to review your property tax status for 2023. If you are a landowner in traditional Ag or timber, and are considering converting to Wildlife Management in 2023, we are now offering 10% off our plan pricing until November 30th, 2022!
Benefits of Wildlife Management:
- Improved habitat & wildlife diversity
- No fencing or livestock requirements
- No timber harvesting requirements
- Same low property taxes as traditional Ag
- Multitude of management options
- Increased resale value
- Less time, stress & liability
Wildlife Management Plan Pricing:
- <30 acre property reduced to $1,995.00
- 31-100 acre property reduced to $2,295.00
- 101-200 acre property reduced to $2,595.00
- >201 acre property priced per bid
If you’re ready to make the switch to Wildlife Management or have questions about what’s included in our Wildlife Management Plan, call (512) 894-3479 or email [email protected] to get a quote or learn more.
WE’RE HIRING! JOIN THE PLATEAU TEAM!
GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS: COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT FENCING
GUEST FEATURE: CORINA RODRIGUEZ, ATTORNEY AT LAW WITH BRAUN & GRESHAM, PLLC.
Join us for a special guest feature, “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: Common Questions about Fencing” presented by Braun & Gresham Attorney Corina Rodriguez.
About Early Bird Presenter, Corina “Cory” Rodriguez: Cory assists her clients with rural property needs, using both legal and practical advice, helping to secure land for future generations. She utilizes tools such as conservation easements, estate planning documents, business entities, real estate agreements, and many other strategies to achieve the clients’ goals. Cory’s passion for land stewardship stems from both her family’s long-standing ranching heritage and her undergraduate education in Agriculture Economics from Texas A&M University. She takes a holistic approach when addressing landowners’ needs by reviewing the state of their real estate interests, addressing any concerns at hand, and advising on how to protect their assets.
Learn more or contact Cori here.
News for Texas Landowners
News Release by TPWD
AUSTIN – With the first sightings of iconic, endangered whooping cranes along the Texas coast being reported, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is reminding Texans to be on the lookout for these impressive birds as they move through the state. Janess Vartanian, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Acting Whooping Crane Coordinator, says that on October 21, a pair of whooping cranes were the first to arrive this season on Matagorda Island. Although this is a week earlier than last year, we still expect most will arrive in and around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in December.
Once whooping cranes arrive on their wintering grounds, many stay in the same general area. Younger birds, however, often haven’t paired yet and may wander a little off their usual flight path, using areas quite distant from the Aransas NWR area….
Report ByTravis Herzog for ABC13
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Winter is coming, and it will feature a rare “triple dip” La Niña. That means that for the third winter in a row, La Niña conditions will be observed in the Pacific Ocean. This large patch of cooler-than-normal water resides along the equator, near South America, and like its El Niño counterpart, it shifts the global jet stream. A typical La Niña winter brings warmer and drier than normal conditions to Houston during the winter months, as it shifts the jet stream farther north across America. Keep in mind, we are talking about the average temperature and rainfall across three months. There will still be cold fronts and freezes, and there will still be showers and thunderstorms. But when you have averaged it all up over those roughly 90 days of winter, it will likely be warmer and drier than normal. This means it is more likely that the drought will persist and even worsen in Texas. Wintry precipitation is less likely in a La Niña winter when compared to an El Niño winter….
Article by Romey Swanson for Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine
Deep in the gloom of the East Texas Pineywoods, I’m on a hunt for some of Texas’ most elusive creatures. Secretive salamanders are playing out an ancient drama here, and I’ve always wanted to experience it. Earlier in the week, heavy winter rains filled drainages and depressions throughout the forest, triggering a salamander breeding frenzy. Unique to this region of Texas, these mostly lethargic creatures hide beneath logs or buried deep underground.
When the pitter-patter of raindrops breaks their subterranean trance, the no-longer-sleepy salamanders emerge with a singular focus: Perpetuate the next generation.
News Release by TPWD
AUSTIN –Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has directed Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Executive Director Carter Smith to establish by emergency rule two new chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance zones located primarily in Gillespie and Limestone counties. The two new surveillance zones will go into effect prior to the start of the general hunting season beginning Nov. 5. TPWD developed the zones following the detection of CWD earlier this year in a deer breeding facility located in Gillespie County and a deer breeding facility located in Limestone County. Surveillance zones cover areas where the presence of CWD could reasonably be expected and enhance efforts to monitor and contain disease spread. Surveillance zone rules require hunters who harvest mule deer or white-tailed deer within the zone to bring their animals to a TPWD check station within 48 hours of harvest. Hunters must check each animal harvested and receive a CWD receipt before taking any part of that animal, including meat or quartered parts, from the zone….
Report by Jenni Lee for KVUE
AUSTIN, Texas — Having enough water for Austin’s growing population is a huge concern. Add the ongoing drought, record-breaking heat and aging infrastructure and you can see why water managers and conservationists are worried about the future.
Water is a resource that landscape architect Tait Moring values. That’s why he promotes native plants. Traditional yards in Central Texas take work. “We have extremes. So it gets very hot and it also can get very cold … We’ve been in this drought now for a period of time,” Moring said. The current drought started in September of 2021, according to state climatologist John Nielson-Gammon. He also said Texas is experiencing the worst drought since 2011. “The drought in 2022 was unusual because we had the second-hottest summer on record behind only 2011, and so that made the drought impacts worse and made the drought worse,” Nielson-Gammon said.
News Release for Texas Parks and Wildlife
AUSTIN— The Texas commercial and recreational oyster season opens Tuesday, Nov. 1 and closes April 30, 2023. In an effort to protect and restore oyster reefs showing signs of environmental stress, many shellfish harvest areas will be closed to oyster fishing at the beginning of this season.
“[Oysters] are essential to the health of our fish and wildlife, water quality, commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, and coastal economies,” said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director “Over time, a variety of environmental factors and localized harvest pressures have greatly impacted this valuable natural resource across the entire Gulf Coast. We will continue to work closely with the Texas legislature and our stakeholders to create, restore, and maintain healthy, sustainable oyster populations and habitats so that a viable oyster fishery can persist in Texas.”
News Release by City of Austin
AUSTIN – Austin Water plans to conduct prescribed burns this winter on its Water Quality Protection Lands in Travis County. The prescribed burn season typically runs from November through late February and is designed to mimic the natural fire cycle of a healthy ecosystem. It eliminates overgrown brush, reduces the intensity of potential wildfires, and restores native grasslands.“Prescribed fire is a key tool used to manage this land and improve the quality and quantity of groundwater entering the Edwards Aquifer,” said Matt Lore, Austin Water Wildland Conservation Division. “Beyond our core mission of improving groundwater quality in Central Texas, the use of prescribed fire also improves landscape resilience, promoting a vibrant and biodiverse ecosystem above the aquifer……
Article by Click2Houston
HOUSTON – You’ve probably seen them at parks across Texas and the United States, and probably the world: rock cairns. They’re the stacks of stones people place, often in waterways or on trails. In Texas parks, they aren’t allowed, as Dinosaur Valley State Park – Texas Parks and Wildlife pointed out late last week. “While we are impressed by your rock stacking abilities, the building of rock cairns is not allowed,” a social media post reads. “Doing so disturbs sensitive and critical wildlife habitats that rely on the rocks for protection. This is even more serious during times of drought and low water levels just like we are experiencing here at the park. Wildlife are already isolated to specific areas of the river and streams when water levels drop, and the building of rock cairns destroys what habitats are left. This results in those wildlife species moving somewhere else causing a break in the ecosystem.”
Article for Waco Tribune
If you find yourself bored over the next few weeks, then it’s not for a lack of things to do — it’s an imagination issue. Hunting and fishing action are going strong, football season is hitting its stride, holiday cooking is around the corner, and summer has finally gasped to a stop and given way to fall-like weather. One of my favorite things about this time of year is that Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologists infuse waters throughout the state with rainbow trout, and instead of having to travel westward and drop baits into a mountain stream, I can just drive a few minutes down the road from home and come back with a mess of trout for the skillet.
The first stocking in our area will be on Nov. 23 at Buena Vista Park Lake, and follow-up stockings will take place every two weeks through the first of March. Amsler Park is the only other McLennan County water to get trout.
Article by KVUE
Concerns over ecological damage to Corpus Christi Bay have delayed plans to convert sea water to drinking water for years in this booming Gulf Coast city, where environmentalists see water supply as a “chokehold” to block new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Article by Nature World News
The federal government is pushing for several locations in Louisiana and Texas to be recognized as critical habitats for a rare burrowing snake species. The federal government recommends protecting four areas in Louisiana as well as two in Texas as vital habitats for a rare snake that likes to eat pocket gophers and takes over the burrows of rodents.
Since 2018, Louisiana pinesnakes have been classified as threatened because they lay the largest eggs and also hatch the largest snakes in the US. Sand-based grassy longleaf pine savannas’ sharp decline and fragmentation are largely to blame for their decline. Losses are difficult to replace because Louisiana pinesnakes only lay three to five of their 5-inch-long eggs at a time due to their large size.
Before sunrise on a January morning, I’m driving on Texas Highway 114, heading an hour northwest of Lubbock to the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge. Every winter, this remote, under-the-radar park hosts one of the world’s largest migratory gatherings of lesser sandhill cranes—elegant, gray-bodied, red-capped creatures that often stand close to four feet tall. It’s just after six, and a full moon hides behind a heavy bank of clouds. Save for an occasional light emanating from the few farm buildings and houses that dot the road, the darkness outside is total. Every now and then, a tumbleweed rolls through the beam of my headlights. After I turn onto a caliche road to enter the property, I count four jackrabbits hopping about in the brush. The oldest national wildlife refuge in Texas, Muleshoe is also home to mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, horny toads, and prairie dogs—but I’m here for the cranes. Every winter, as many as 150,000 lesser sandhill cranes, or about 15 percent of the subspecies’s North American population, pass through the refuge’s 6,440 acres of windblown prairie…..