Highlighting Heirs’ Property Ownership and Land Loss

A USDA Forest Service publication on heirs’ property ownership across the southern U.S. highlights a kind of land ownership prevalent among lower wealth, African Americans in the Black Belt South, central Appalachian whites, and Hispanic Americans in U.S. southwest colonia communities. A meeting co-hosted by the Southern Research Station and the Federal Reserve Bank of…  More 

Heirs’ Property in the South

Children often inherit their parents’ homes and land. But what happens when there is no will or title? For many people, this is not an abstract question. “Heirs’ property is inherited land that two or more people own,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Cassandra Johnson Gaither. “The property is typically passed to heirs without a…  More 

Forest Landowners and State Property Tax Programs

Every state in the U.S. has a property tax program that lowers taxes for forest landowners. Greg Frey and Stephanie Snyder of the USDA Forest Service, with Justin Meier, Michael Kilgore, and Charlie Blinn of the University of Minnesota recently published two papers that build on their previous analysis of all fifty state property tax…  More 

Identifying Potential Heirs Properties

Heirs’ property is inherited land that comes with a catch – a clouded title. “Without a clear title, families are at risk of losing their land and their wealth,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Cassandra Johnson Gaither. Heirs’ property owners often cannot access credit, sell natural resources, or participate in state and federal land improvement…  More 

Protecting Heirs and Stabilizing Communities

What do you do with Grandma’s house or farm when she dies without a will? Without a properly recorded will, the land is distributed to the children of the deceased as “tenants in common.” The process leaves the family without a clear and marketable title to family property and may require total agreement on any…  More 

Southern Roots in New York

Urban-rural connections are quite important for land and forest management in the South. From the early 1900s to about 1970, many African Americans migrated from southern farms to industrializing northern cities, and since then many have returned to their homelands. As a USDA Forest Service researcher, I’ve studied African American forest landownership since 1999. I…  More 

U.S. Forest Service Co-sponsors Magazine’s 8th Anniversary Conference

More than 220 farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and natural resource professionals from across the United States attended “Family Farms Strengthen the Local Economy,” the Minority Landowner Magazine’s annual conference held this year in Greenville, South Carolina. “Through the feature articles in Minority Landowner and through our annual conference, we introduce farmers and forest landowners to…  More 

Novel forestry outreach shows success

In 2012, the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service partnered with a number of nonprofit organizations to create an award-winning program to help landowners address heirs’ property, land retention, and natural resource justice issues. The Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program (SFLR) has become a model for addressing issues faced by…  More 

Helping families keep & sustain land

Children often inherit their parents’ homes and land. But what if there is no will or estate plan? In such cases, state laws determine how real estate and other assets are divided. In most cases, property is passed to heirs in split shares. “Without a will, property is typically passed to heirs with a clouded…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More