Montana Administrative Register Notice 42-1021 No. 18   09/25/2020    
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In the matter of the amendment of ARM 42.20.701, 42.20.705, 42.20.725, 42.20.740, 42.20.745, and the repeal of ARM 42.20.171, 42.20.505, 42.20.710, 42.20.715, 42.20.720, 42.20.730, 42.20.735, and 42.20.750 pertaining to forest land classification requirements and valuation











TO: All Concerned Persons


1. On August 7, 2020, the Department of Revenue published MAR Notice No. 42-1021 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed amendment and repeal of the above-stated rules at page 1490 of the 2020 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 15.


2. On August 31, 2020, a public hearing was held to consider the proposed amendment and repeal. No persons appeared at the hearing. The department did receive oral comments via telephone from an interested person. Bob Story, executive director of the Montana Taxpayers Association, submitted written comments. No other oral or written comments were received.


3. The department has amended ARM 42.20.705, 42.20.725, 42.20.740, 42.20.745, and repealed ARM 42.20.171, 42.20.505, 42.20.710, 42.20.715, 42.20.720, 42.20.730, 42.20.735, and 42.20.750 as proposed.


4. The department has amended the following rule as proposed, but with the following changes from the original proposal, new matter underlined, deleted matter interlined:


42.20.701 DEFINITIONS The following definitions apply to this subchapter:

(1) through (20) remain as proposed.

(21) "Under one ownership" means when two or more parcels of land are titled deeded under an owner's identical name or when an owner has obtained department recognition of parcels under one ownership through the affidavit process described in ARM 42.20.705.


AUTH:  15-44-105, MCA

IMP:  15-1-101, 15-44-101, 15-44-102, 15-44-103, 15-44-106, MCA


5. The department has thoroughly considered the comments and testimony received. A summary of the comments received and the department's responses are as follows:


COMMENT #1: A commenter provided positive support for the department's efforts to consolidate and clarify the forest land classification rules, but also asked why cottonwood trees are included as an example in the definition of "Hardwood Species" because cottonwoods are a softwood species.


RESPONSE #1: The department appreciates the support and the question. The department's inclusion of cottonwood trees in "Hardwood Species" is consistent and supported by scientific classification of "hardwoods" and "softwoods," although there are a number of outstanding exceptions to each.  Basswood, poplar, aspen, and cottonwood, which are all classified as hardwoods, are among the softest of woods. Based on the correct scientific classification of cottonwoods as a hardwood species, the department will maintain the existing examples.


COMMENT #2: Mr. Story commented that there is a discrepancy in the definition of "under one ownership" in proposed ARM 42.20.701(21) (describing that property is "titled") with the proposed definition in ARM 42.20.601(29), pending under MAR Notice No. 42-1023, which references "deeded" property under one ownership. Deeded property more accurately describes real-estate ownership conveyances.  Mr. Story suggests the department align the definitions.


RESPONSE #2: The department appreciates the comment and concurs with Mr. Story. Based on the comment, the department has further amended ARM 42.20.701(21) upon adoption.


COMMENT #3: Mr. Story questions how the department classifies stream-side management zones.  He notes that these zones have restrictions that limit or prevent harvest of timber.  Are they considered nonproductive forest land or given other consideration?


RESPONSE #3: The department does not give a different classification based on stream-side location and classifies land based on the requirements of ARM 42.20.705.  If the land does not meet those requirements, including being wider than 120 feet and larger than five acres, it is considered non-forest land and would be classified based on the criteria of other land uses. The department does not have sufficient information to answer Mr. Story's zone restrictions observation other than to direct him to ARM 42.20.705(4), as amended, which includes more detailed circumstances where forest land classification is not available.




/s/ Todd Olson                                              /s/ Gene Walborn                                        

Todd Olson                                                   Gene Walborn

Rule Reviewer                                              Director of Revenue


Certified to the Secretary of State September 15, 2020.

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