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Knox County Illinois Soil and Water Conservation District

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Reduced Property Tax Assessments Under The State of IL Vegetative Filter Strip Assessment Law

Public Act 89-606

Bear Creek in Story County, Iowa
The buffer is a nationally designated demonstration area for riparian buffers.

Through the efforts of soil and water conservation districts, legislation was approved and signed into law effective on January 1, 1997, which provides for tax incentives for the development of vegetative filter strips. Vegetative filter strips are a proven conservation practice which can aid in reducing soil erosion, improve water quality, and provide significant habitat for grassland wildlife. Soil and water conservation districts play a primary role in working with local landowners to access this tax incentive.
The Vegetative Filter Strip Assessment Law provides for a reduction in the assessed value of cropland certified as meeting the requirements of the law to 1/6 of its value.
SWCD's can help interested landowners access this incentive program by:
  • Providing program information to landowners regarding the availability of this state tax incentive for development of vegetative filter strips;
  • Working directly with land owners regarding their applications for vegetative filter strip certification; and
  • Providing technical assistance to interested parties;


The vegetative filter strip legislation sets the following criteria for land eligible to be certified as a vegetative filter strip. These criteria include:

  • Any cropland surrounding a surface or ground water conduit is eligible (lakes, streams, rivers, ponds).
  • The minimum and maximum width of the vegetative filter strip width eligible for the assessment reduction is determined by the slope of the land on which the vegetative strip is located.
  • The vegetative filter strip must be part of a conservation plan and must provide for a uniform ground cover; have a heavy fibrous root system; and tolerate pesticides used in farm fields.


Landowners who wish to participate in this conservation program should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District for application forms and further information. A site visit will then be scheduled to determine qualification.

From the Illinois General Assembly Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/10-152) (Section scheduled to be repealed on December 31, 2026) Sec. 10-152. Vegetative filter strip assessment. (a) In counties with less than 3,000,000 inhabitants, any land (i) that is located between a farm field and an area to be protected, including but not limited to surface water, a stream, a river, or a sinkhole and (ii) that meets the requirements of subsection (b) of this Section shall be considered a "vegetative filter strip" and valued at 1/6th of its productivity index equalized assessed value as cropland. In counties with 3,000,000 or more inhabitants, the land shall be valued at the lesser of either (i) 16% of the fair cash value of the farmland estimated at the price it would bring at a fair, voluntary sale for use by the buyer as a farm as defined in Section 1-60 or (ii) 90% of the 1983 average equalized assessed value per acre certified by the Department of Revenue. (b) Vegetative filter strips shall meet the standards and specifications set forth in the Natural Resources Conservation Service Technical Guide and shall contain vegetation that (i) has a dense top growth; (ii) forms a uniform ground cover; (iii) has a heavy fibrous root system; and (iv) tolerates pesticides used in the farm field. (c) The county's soil and water conservation district shall assist the taxpayer in completing a uniform certified document as prescribed by the Department of Revenue in cooperation with the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts that certifies (i) that the property meets the requirements established under this Section for vegetative filter strips and (ii) the acreage or square footage of property that qualifies for assessment as a vegetative filter strip. The document shall be filed by the applicant with the Chief County Assessment Officer. The Chief County Assessment Officer shall promulgate rules concerning the filing of the document. The soil and water conservation district shall create a conservation plan for the creation of the filter strip. The plan shall be kept on file in the soil and water conservation district office. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to require any taxpayer to have vegetative filter strips. (d) A joint report by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources concerning the effect and impact of vegetative filter strip assessment shall be submitted to the General Assembly by March 1, 2006. (e) This Section is repealed on December 31, 2026. (Source: P.A. 99-560, eff. 1-1-17; 99-916, eff. 12-30-16.)

ILGA Property Tax Code

Knox County SWCD
233 S. Soangetaha Rd.
Galesburg, IL  61401
Phone: (309) 342-5138  ext 3
Fax: (855) 288-1480

Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8- 4:30 p.m.

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