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Estate planning and heirs property — two of the most vexing issues facing forest landowners — is the focus of a free virtual conference the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project will hold on February 24 and 25.

Two North Carolina attorneys with expertise in estate planning and two senior officials with The Conservation Fund – one of the nation’s leading environmental organizations – will be the event’s featured speakers. 

The webinar, entitled Get Informed, Make a Plan, Take Action, will be held as a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Registration information may be found at this link

The conference will feature two sessions:

Estate Planning and Heirs Property from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on February 24.

Landowners will learn about steps they can take to establish an estate plan that fits their goals.

This session will include a discussion of the potential use of trusts as an ownership vehicle, as well as other ways that landowners can ensure their forestland will remain within the family for multiple generations. 

Presenters are Mavis Gragg, a Durham-based estate planning attorney and director of the American Forest Foundation’s Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Program; and Pamela Harrigan-Young, an estate planning attorney in Raleigh.

On February 25 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. a program on deeds, leases and conservation easements will be held where landowners will learn about strategies and structures that can help them protect their property rights and effectively manage their land. 

Presenters are Margaret Conrad, capacity builder, resourceful communities for The Conservation Fund and Peg Kohring, senior associate with The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit organization based in northern Virginia.

“We are excited to be able to offer this webinar and have the caliber of speakers we do,” said Alton Perry, program manager for the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project. “Typically, the biggest issue facing the families we assist is land ownership rights. Land that has been passed down without a will becomes heirs property and, in many cases, has multiple owners with different interests. 

“This puts the family’s ability to retain the land at risk and makes it more challenging to access technical resources and implement sound forestry practices. Participants in this webinar will come away with actionable recommendations that will have a lasting, positive impact on the control and management of their woodlands.”

This webinar is sponsored through a grant from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the North Carolina Forest Service and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. 

North Carolina State Extension Forestry is supporting the webinar logistically. 

Forest landowners do not have to live in the region to participate. Phone charges or data rates may apply if participating via phone or over a mobile network.

The Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project is supported in part by Roanoke Electric Cooperative. 

The program began in 2013 as a partnership between the United States Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the United States Forest Service and, more recently, the American Forest Foundation. 

The program works to restore and conserve threatened forestland in the Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s service area by increasing forest-owner income and land asset values. 

All landowners owning at least one contiguous eight-acre parcel of woodland are eligible to participate. 

Visit this link for more information on the program.