What Is A Wildlife Exemption?
A wildlife exemption is an alternative type of agricultural exemption that lets you keep your low property taxes by performing activities aimed at helping native Texas wildlife rather than, or alongside, traditional agriculture uses.
While traditional Texas “ag” and timber exemptions require the practices of farming, ranching or timber production, a state constitutional amendment (Proposition 11, 1995) allows Texas landowners to also qualify for an ag exemption through wildlife management practices – thus being able to maintain their lower property taxes without some of the costs and activities associated with traditional agriculture.
While ag and wildlife exemptions are not true “exemptions” from property taxes, qualifying landowners are able to maintain a much lower property valuation on their land vs its market value, saving considerable tax dollars for large parcel landowners or land in high value areas. These property tax savings are designed to protect open-space land and that is what makes maintaining Ag and Wildlife exemptions so beneficial across the state.
How Does A Wildlife Exemption Benefit My Land And Texas?
Open-space lands, including those under timber, ag, and wildlife exemptions in Texas help provide clean water, clean air, food and fiber production, and beautiful Texas landscapes. The requirements of maintaining a wildlife exemption are designed to benefit native wildlife and their habitats on your land. Particularly in the western 2/3rds of the state, local grazing intensity requirements for an ag exemption are difficult to maintain on many properties.
A property that enjoys a wildlife exemption, regardless of size, is part of the six million acres in Texas currently being managed to preserve open spaces and lower property taxes – while increasing property aesthetics and property value.
What Kind Of Landowners Benefit From A Wildlife Exemption?
While it’s true that landowners with a strong appreciation of wildlife and natural habitats find switching to a wildlife exemption an enjoyable transition, other types of landowners can benefit as well:
- Ranchers, farmers and families who no longer want to continue ranching or farming but want to continue caring for their land and its wildlife.
- Ranchers who want more flexibility in their stocking rates or need longer rest and recovery periods for their land.
- New rural landowners who want to have their own place in the country without having to deal with livestock or farming.
- Landowners looking for a simpler way of life and more pleasure and enjoyment from owning and working the land.
- Landowners who want to leave a legacy to future generations who may not want to be farmers or ranchers.
- Those looking for greater flexibility, more choices, and potential savings of time and money
How Do I Qualify For A Wildlife Exemption?
1) Your land must already be qualified for Agricultural use (1-D-1) in order for you to convert it to wildlife management use.
2) A wildlife management plan and application needs to be written and submitted to the County Appraisal District before May 1st.
Is There A Minimum Acreage To Qualify For A Wildlife Exemption?
No, there is no minimum acreage to qualify for a wildlife exemption unless your property acreage has decreased in size last January 1st. In that case, qualifications for a wildlife exemption can vary by where your property is located.
How Do I Maintain My Wildlife Exemption?
To maintain a wildlife tax exemption, landowners must conduct at least three of seven wildlife management practices each year. These include habitat control, erosion control, predator control, supplemental water, supplemental food, supplemental shelter, and census counts. To ensure state and local requirements are easily met, Plateau Land & Wildlife recommends conducting at least four practices each year. Some capital-intensive activities, such as erosion control and supplemental water, can count for up to ten years as long as annual maintenance is performed. Plateau works with each landowner to take full advantage of their natural habitat, to target or attract preferred species, and to elect activities that the landowner can maintain on their own or with assistance.
Can I Have A Wildlife Exemption And Keep My Traditional Ag Or Recreation Activities?
Yes, under proper conditions and with some forethought you can maintain a wildlife exemption while doing whatever you want to on your land – as long as managing for native Texas wildlife remains the primary use. Some traditional Ag activities, like periodic grazing, can even be part of a productive wildlife management program.