Illinois Department of Natural Resources


IDNR has not set a deadline for
the program and we advise calling your local county tax assessor to
find out when a person's land might be re-evaluated in the coming year.

Is there a fee associated with enrolling my land in the Conservation Stewardship Program?

No.  The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will review your plan and provide notification to the Department of Revenue when your plan is approved.  There is no charge for this processing.

Am I required to hire a professional to write a management plan for my land?

No.  However, IDNR recommends landowners consult with a wildlife or forestry professional to establish their management plan. There are a number of qualified consultants available throughout the state. Here is a link to the Consulting Foresters in Illinois.

What is the deadline for sending my conservation management plan to the Department of Natural Resources?

There is no deadline established in the Conservation Stewardship Law or in the rules prepared by DNR.  To obtain the maximum tax benefit offered by the law, it is important that you submit your conservation management plan to DNR before valuations of land in your county are established in 2008.  The time that this will happen will vary between counties, so we recommend that landowners contact their county assessor to learn when 2008 valuations will be set.  We recommend that you have your conservation management plan to DNR at least 45 days before the date provided by your assessor.

Should I send a copy of my conservation management plan to the assessor in my county?

It is not necessary to send your conservation management plan to anyone other than DNR.  DNR is responsible for reviewing and approving plans and then providing information on approved plans to the Department of Revenue.  The Department of Revenue will notify your county assessor that you have an approved plan so the assessor can make the appropriate adjustment in your valuation.

How can I be sure that I am getting the best available tax rate on my property?

There are some situations in which a landowner is already paying less tax on their property than they would under the Conservation Stewardship Program.  Your county assessor is the best source of information on how your current taxes compare to what you would pay in the Conservation Stewardship Program.

When will the special valuation under the Conservation Stewardship Law take effect?

The soonest that your taxes can be affected is for the 2008 valuation.  This valuation will be reflected on the tax bill that you receive in 2009.  2007 land values have already been determined and the tax bill you receive in 2008 will be based on that 2007 value.  Enrollment in the Conservation Stewardship Program will remain open as long as the Conservation Stewardship Law remains in effect.

What is the special valuation rate for land enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program?

Land accepted into the Conservation Stewardship Program will be valued at 5% of the fair market value for property tax purposes.

If my land is already enrolled in another conservation program, should I apply to the Conservation Stewardship Program?

The decision to withdraw from another program that provides a property tax reduction to enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program may be complicated and will depend on your individual circumstances.  It is best to consult your county assessor, tax consultant or attorney to determine if changing programs will give you the most favorable property tax rate.  You should also talk with the DNR, Nature Preserves Commission, or USDA resource manager who helped prepare your existing management plan to determine which program best fits your plans for your land.  With information on management options and tax benefits, you can choose the program that is best for you.

What lands are eligible for enrollment?

  • Five or more contiguous acres of unimproved land - unimproved land means woodlands, prairie, wetlands or other vacant and undeveloped land that is not used for any residential or commercial purpose that materially disturbs the land.
  • Land in a Forestry Development Program Plan (also known as a Forest Stewardship Plan) under Section 10-150 of the Property Tax Code
  • Land registered or encumbered by conservation rights under Section 10-166 of the Property Tax Code

What lands are not eligible for enrollment?

  • Any land in Cook County
  • Land assessed as farmland under Sections 10-110 through 10-145 of the Property Tax Code
  • Land valued under Section 10-152 (vegetated filter strips) or 10-153 (non clear-cut along navigable waters) of the Property Tax Code
  • Land valued as open space under Section 10-155 of the Property Tax Code
  • Land certified under Section 10-167 of the Property Tax Code
  • Any property dedicated as a nature preserve or nature preserve buffer under the Natural Areas Preservation Act - the assessed value of dedicated nature preserves and buffer is one dollar per acre for the calculation of property taxes

If you are not certain of the current valuation status of your property, please consult your county assessor.

How will I know if my conservation management plan has been approved?

You will receive certification from the Department of Natural Resources when your plan has been approved.  DNR will also notify the Department of Revenue.

What if my plan is not approved by DNR?

If your plan does not satisfy the requirements of the Conservation Stewardship Law, DNR will notify you and tell you what is lacking.  You will have an opportunity to re-submit the plan with the needed information added.  If your plan is rejected by DNR a second time, you can appeal that decision to a 3-member DNR committee.

If I sell my land, do the Conservation Management Plan and the special valuation remain in effect?

Yes, the special valuation carries over to the new owner unless the acreage requirement is no longer met or the use of the land changes.  The new owner has the option of submitting a revised plan if they wish to change the management practices to be implemented on the land.

If I enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program, will I be required to allow public access to my land?


I have heard that the assessed value of forested ground in Illinois will soon rise sharply.  Should I enroll my forested ground in the Conservation Stewardship Program to avoid this increase in taxes?

The passage of Senate Bill 17 created a second new law called the Wooded Acreage Assessment Transition Law.  This law defines how wooded acreage will be assessed for property taxes.  Please consult your county assessor to determine how this law will be applied in your county and how it will affect your tax liability on wooded acreage.

If you have questions about the Conservation Stewardship Program or the application process, please call Lindsey Lockwood at (217) 785-8284.

updated 2/11