Planning for a Successful Timber Harvest

Plan carefully and balance your priorities as you decide who should harvest your saleable trees, and how. July 30, 2007

I have about 144 acres of white and red oak combined with some pine. Most of the oak trees have their first limb at 30 to 50 feet and the pine at 60 to 70 feet. I have had numerous loggers wanting to timber, but I am reluctant because of the condition they leave the forest once they have completed logging. Any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor S:
If you don't know how to cruise your timber, contact a Timber Consultant or your Service Forester to have your timber cut marked. If your timber was never cut before, you will need to address the best logging trails to minimize soil erosion and ensure minimal damage to the trees to be left (expect some limbing and scuffing). Sounds like some nice timber and would seriously think about having a bidding process. Your Forester or Consultant will explain this to you.

Don't take a logger's advice as to the worth of your timber and make sure everything is in writing, including cleaning up of tops and leveling and reseeding of logging roads. You are in charge through the whole process.

From contributor C:
Low impact logging is possible. Horse logging is about as far from skidding as possible.

From contributor K:
The process of logging is a change in the forest. Managed well, the change is a positive event in the long and short term. The more you can learn about the stewardship of your forest, the better.

The trees do not know that they are slated for logging now or in three years. That gives you time to get your knowledge and intention organized. If you have a short term cash crunch, a consulting forester can go a long way toward limiting negative outcomes.

I know good men that are loggers. They are still loggers. The job of logging is producing value and volume. I would not expect even the good loggers to stray far from that course. It is "industry in the forest" and not a maid service. If you want it to look like a park, budget for a follow-up crew.

It is a superb honor to own and care for a productive piece of our planet. Enjoy your process and create an outcome you can be proud of.

From contributor T:
Your post seems to say that your goal is not money first. Contributor C is right about the horse logging. There are organizations dedicated to horse logging and its benefit to the forest.

Is there a pressing need to get this job done pronto? If not, logging this land could be stretched over years. Slowing the pace of the logging allows for better decisions and higher profits... giving you a perpetual annual, biannual, triannual, etc. income.

Contributor K is right about the follow-up crew. This could start with firewood and end with woodlot improvement. As said in the other posts, get yourself a good forester.

From contributor W:
Contact your state forestry commission and find out who the best loggers in your area are. I am a forester with 28 years in the business. As a procurement manager for a large forest products company, we have made many bids. People always talk about bidding timber as the best way to go. However, if you bid, you cannot control who will win the bid. It might be a buyer with a sorry logger that will leave your woods in sad shape. I select who I want to cut my timber based on the quality of the job that they do. They may pay a little less than the highest bidder, but I know that I will get a high quality job and be pleased with it. Yes, you have to know who you are dealing with or you have to know who to ask to find the best, most reputable loggers that will pay a market price and do a fine job of logging. Do some homework. Selling to the highest bidder is not always the best course.