| Preface| Top| Map| Card| Surf| Family| Life| Forestry| Computers|


Mail About Forestry Received for this WWW Site

Timber Harvesting and Conservation

Click here for a form to send us your comments.


Return to Forestry Mail main page
From: Mike Prueter

Duane, You have hit the nail on the head ! I agree with you 110 % and as a forester out here on the West Coast, it is true ! I believe that we need to manage our forests in perpetuity and really look at our soil as our capital and our trees as our interest. If we damage our soils or take our timber stands back to an earlier stage of succession, then we have to expect that we are most likely going to change the interest rate earned on our land. Sustainable Forestry and Conservation really is the name of the game. In Europe they call their foresters Conservationists and they are so valued that they are not usually allowed even to go to war! Interesting idea !


From: Warren Evrard

Duane, a very interesting site. I am a log and timber buyer as well as a NHLA certified lumber inspector. I have been on your site for 3 nights now, linking to other pages about forestry. The links gave me some info on consulting foresters. I work for Indiana Hardwoods, a division of Kimball International. We are attempting to return to the timber buying market, and I was trying to establish some contacts, actually re-establish contacts. Our previous timber buyers were let go a couple of years ago when it was decided to get out of timber buying. A change in management has decided to pursue the idea of timber buying again, albeit a bit late in the year..
Anyway, the site is great, although I found a couple of sites that weren't available. I also read the article you had sent in response to an article to the Courier-Journal. I have not been a full time timber buyer, but spent 3 years off and on learning from an older gentleman, who taught me the ropes, so to speak. I have seen both ends of the spectrum, from bad to good logging practices, to landowners selling for the need of money and cutting more than they needed to, to consultants doing one hell of a job marking the proper trees. I agree with the fact the public is very under educated in what constitues environmental damage. Some landowners expect their ground to remain the way it was before harvesting while others aren't quite as particular. Every landowner should be concerned but they should also not expect miracles. Unfortunately there are just enough bad loggers around to mess things up for everyone.
Again, I appreciate the site and keep up the good work.


by email

Duane, I have reached your Web site for the first time today and have a question for you. I have nearly 50 acres in Carter county, Ky. I have talked to 3 loggers about cutting my timber. I've got 3 different "prices" One is 60/40, (me 40%), (with 50/50 on veneer) #2 is 50/50 on all timber, and #3 is 50/50 on the logs and 40/60 (me 60%) on veneer. I understand that loggers generally are looking out for their own welfare, but will negotiate with an owner. I can understand that by having a consultant, the owner would be well represented, but something I wonder about is at what percentage would the logger have to give in order to off set the 10% consulting fee that a professional forester would charge. I suppose that you have been asked this question before in some variation. Thanks for your consideration on this question.

Reply from Duane:

First of all I would very seldom recommend selling timber on any kind of share arrangement such as you mention. This gives you no control over the cut. Not only would you have to very closely supervise the logging to be sure you got your share but you would also have no control over how much timber was cut. Basically you are inviting loggers to log the highest quality timber off which they will make the most money and then stop cutting. That means that you will be left with low quality timber suppressing growth of your remaining crop. It also encourages cutting fast growing trees which might very well have more future than present value.

I recommend a timber cruise and payment for the timber as specified in a contract in advance or close supervision with you or your representative hiring a logging crew for a set price per mbf paid for logging and hauling to the markets you specify with different qualities of timber going to the best market for each type.

The purpose of hiring a consultant is not just to get you more money but to give you control over the harvest so that your timber land is left in the best possible condition for future harvests and therefore for the most long term value.

We just finished a logging job last week on my land. I paid the loggers $120 per mbf to cut, skid and haul timber to the markets I specified. I got paid an average price of $200 to $300 per mbf for sawlogs and $1000 to $1500 per mbf for veneer. They harvested only the trees I specified by type or by individually marking the trees and I did not cut any good trees less than 20 inches in diameter breast high which would be about 23 inches at the stump unless they were defective or non crop trees and we cut those as small as we could sell. In some cases those low quality trees brought as little as $170 per mbf. Overall I probably paid the loggers about 30% of the total value of the logs we sold.

If the trees you are trying to sell are not worth more than twice the logging and hauling cost there is a good chance that your timber is not yet mature enough for harvest and should simply be left to grow.


From: Carrie Mackenzie-Dale,

I am contacting you from Cranbrook, BC Canada. I am doing a project for Forest Renewal BC wherein we are trying to do a Comparative Analysis with other companies or programs throughout the world that operate with similar goals as Forest Renewal BC. I haven't been able to find a lot of information in the Kentucky area and was wondering if you may know if there are any similar organizations or programs (to FRBC) in your area? Is there a Forest Practices Act they follow or a separate entity for carrying out Silviculture and related type work? If you have any information or links to sites that do, I would appreciate your help.

Reply from Duane:

There is nothing similiar to Forest Renewal BC in Kentucky although I have tried to interest people in getting some such project started. I have had no success.

The only Forest Practices Act in Kentucky requires a Master Logger on every logging job with training in BMPs but the act has no teeth.

Information on all this is available on various pages on my forestry web site.


From: Robert

Can clear cut forestry be an environmentally sound practice? your site says"If done correctly" clear-cut logging is environmentally sound. I can show you ten thousand examples that it cannot. there is no "correct" way to strip a mountainside and rake the slopes bare.

Why is "long term" forest planning only 80 years? That is like a wheat farmer thinking "long term" about next years crop.try thinking 600 years in the future. But, of course you don't have to do that when you are practicing tree farming not Forestry.

how can you justify clear-cutting the hardwood forests and planting a pine tree farm?

Is it morally right to knowingly cause the extinction of species for the bottom line (clear-cut "forestry")?

Reply from Duane:

Thank you for your comments. I suspect from the tenor of your message that its objective is more to make your point than to engage in a discussion of the issues, so rather than reply to your comments I will simply post your message on our forestry email page. Perhaps some of our other web visitors would like to send comments agreeing or disagreeing with your point of view.


From: Brady James Deaton Jr

Duane,

I am an ag. economist at michigan state university; worked several years in Letcher County, KY on water and sewer projects. I have a question for you: What in your opinion are the fundamental determinants of whether a small land owner will decide have his land timbered?

I would be grateful for your advice. By the way, your web site is wonderful.

P.S. enjoyed the reply to the courier journal.

Reply from Duane:

In my opinion the reasons a small forest land owner will sell timber are:

  1. Short term economic needs. (The mortgage needs a payment.)
  2. Opportunity (a timber buyer stops by and says you ought to sell me that timber before the worms eat it.)
  3. He is planning to sell the land and sells the timber first because he figures potential buyers won't value the timber much anyway.

From: Karl Davies
Mark Nussbaum wrote:
 
- Karl,
-
- I looked at the Owsley County report.  They say that the current forest
- yields $1,238,864/year, or $11.80/acre/year.  Going to Transition Forest
- I drops county average income down to $920,951/year, or
- $8.77/acre/year.
  
I can't believe the numbers are actually that low either.  But then their 
present volume per acre is only 1.1 Mbf.  I find that hard to believe too. I 
think their data come from the USFS, which, if it's anything like the USFS 
data for MA, looks like all their sample plots are on Cape Cod. <G-  And they 
only go up to 2.7 Mbf per acre in the Future Forest.  I figure that's about 
half what it should be for sustained yield.  It would be interesting to see 
some explanation of their assumptions. 
 
- But I don't see the associated costs that occur in upgrading forest
- productivity anywhere in their report or your MA report.  No upgrade is
- free.   My costs have run right at $10/acre/year for a fairly active
- productivity upgrade.
 
I don't know how they figured their costs.  But I don't have those costs 
because just about all the thinnings I do pay for themselves and I do very 
little pruning.  Most of my management is for grade hardwoods, and most of 
them self prune pretty well.  I do have costs in access improvements, but they 
generally get factored into returns from sales.  I suppose they shouldn't, 
especially if they're for "permanent" improvements, but it's hard to know how 
long they'll last. 
  
- In addition, I pay $1.40/acre/year in property
- taxes.  I pay about $0.22/acre/year insurance.  This amounts to about
- $11.62/acre/year of costs.
   
I figure taxes are more than offset by real (net of inflation) market value 
increases, risk and/or insurance too.  I don't think the Owsley County report 
took this factor into consideration.  See 
http://www.daviesand.com/Papers/Economics/NPV_Appraisals/ for some info on 
this factor. 
   
- Discounting property taxes and insurance, if Owsley County adopts an
- aggressive forestry upgrade, forest owners are in the hole by
- $8.77-$10.00, or about $-1.23/acre/year.  Add taxes and insurance costs
- that are typical for me, and it cash flows $-2.85/acre/year to hold
- forest land there.
  
I guess it all depends on how much non-commercial thinning and pruning
you're doing.  It also depends on how you account for those market value
increases.  Around here they've been at least 5% per year (real) for the
past couple decades.
 
- The transitional forest turns the average forest into money losers for
- the foreseeable future on a cash flow basis, and cash flow is what
- matters.  If you don't believe that, check out how many middle class
- folks are only 90 days from bankruptcy.
   
Good point.
  
- You better be able to convince
- timber owners that are ambivalent at best regarding forest upgrading
- that they should spend some of their disposable income for an enhanced
- harvest 20-40 years away.  Most people aren't that disciplined.
 
Since I'm not doing any non-commercial thinning, I only have to convince 
landowners that they should pay me to mark low-grade wood and pulp for them.  
And since the value of this wood and pulp usually just about equals my cost, 
this isn't much of a problem. 
 
- I have another question for you (and Doug Enyart too, since he's getting
- a copy of this) regarding forestry consultant fees.  Consultants state
- that their fees are more than offset by higher timber bids, so the
- landowner usually comes out ahead even after consultants' fees are
- paid.  I'll agree that's true now.  In today's timber structure a
- consultant is one item that net pays for sure.  However, what if
- everyone astutely marketed their timber in the future?
  
The best of all possible worlds? <G-
   
- Timber buyers
- underbid many suckers (I mean sellers) now and are able to bid more when
- the astute seller knows what he is selling.  This makes the consultant
- look good, and most importantly, pays his wages.  I won't hire you if
- you don't make me money.  If everyone gets good at selling, isn't the
- consultant's fee going to become a net overhead for the seller?
    
I guess that depends on how you look at it.  How do you look at stock or real 
estate brokers' fees?  Lawyers' or accountants' or financial advisors' fees?  
You don't have to answer that! <G-
 
- Also,
- how many acres can each consultant (or public forester) handle?
 
Public foresters shouldn't "handle" any!  Why on Earth should taxpayers pay 
for services to (generally) wealthy landowners?  Especially when most of them 
(staties) are incompetent!  If you don't believe me, ask Doug about the test 
they gave them a few years ago in MO.  It would be the same here in MA if they 
ever gave them a test, which they haven't done in over 30 years! 
 
- Say
- 10,000 acres of intensive management?  If salary+benefits+expenses runs
- $50,000/consultant/year, does this subtract $5/acre/year from the
- landowner's cut?  Does this also inherently add another $5/acre/year in
- costs for the Owsley forestry upgrade, since the science has to be put
- on the ground by somebody, either public or private?
   
Interesting question.  I figure the part of that $5 per acre per year that 
goes for timber sale administration gets more than paid for by increased 
volumes and values in sales.  See 
http://www.daviesand.com/Services/Timber_Sales/Free_Silviculture/ and 
http://www.daviesand.com/Services/Timber_Sales/Munn%20Paper/. 
 
- How's that for kicking the beehive?
    
Well, you certainly got me buzzing!  And while I'm at it, one more point: in 
addition to increasing timber sale values, consultants help landowners 
concentrate growth on trees that can grow rapidly in value.  So if you spend 
$5 per acre per year on a consultant, and he/she increases your annual rate of 
value growth by $15-30 per acre per year, then he/she has earned his/her keep-
-even if he/she didn't add anything to your timber sale values. 
 
Altogether, consultants are a terrific bargain!  And we will be until the best 
of all possible worlds arrives, at which time I suppose we'll become like 
lawyers and accountants, just another necessary evil. <G-
 
- Interested in your thoughts.
-
- Mark Nussbaum
  
--
Karl Davies, Practicing Forester
http://www.daviesand.com
   
Northeastern Forestry Reformation List Server
http://www.igc.topica.com/lists/nefr-list

From: Karl Davies
 
clwtrcon@show-me.net wrote:
 
- -What do you think it would it take (in the best of all possible worlds) to
- get true forest management in the Ozarks?
- -
- Best question I've seen in a long time, and I don't think I have all the
- answers.   I do know that the way forestry has been approached in the past
- hasn't worked.  With a cornucopia of government cost share programs and
- millions of dollars spent and an army of public Foresters we still haven't
- scratched the surface.  The message isn't getting through and the management
- isn't happening.

What are the states telling landowners they can expect in terms of value 
growth rates with good management? 

- We need to rethink our entire approach, include the psychological and
- sociological sciences.  Meet the landowners needs.  Find out what would
- truly motivate them.  We need to solve some of the fundamental problems that
- impede management.
 
I bet they'd be motivated by money. -G-  Problem is, around here anyway, they 
don't get that motivation from the staties and even most consultants. See 
http://www.daviesand.com/Papers/Economics/economics.html. 
 
- A couple of very big problems that are linked are the size of ownership and
- the time it takes for a forest to grow.  If we could collect landowners
- together to provide a larger land base to work with and pay them on an
- annual basis instead of once in a lifetime, maybe we could make some
- progress.  Management costs could be spread out so the individual owner
- wouldn't have to shell it out directly from his pocket.  The annual income
- would pay the property taxes for all the owners and leave some to boot.  So
- the money side of the problem would be solved.  Kind of like a cooperative
- of sorts.  One part of a solution maybe.
 
Some folks in MA are talking about this sort of land/timber bank idea
too.
Duane Bristow has a nice essay on this at
http://www.kyphilom.com/~duane/wood/state.html. 
 
- Another idea is to get the landowner involved more by getting them connected
- to a group.  Community forestry is an idea that is beginning to bud out.
- There's another part of a solution.
-
- What do you think?
 
I like the idea of REAL forester licensing whereby forest cutting/harvest 
plans stamped by LFs would be required for all operations over a certain size. 
Barring that (due to retrograde attitudes on "property rights"), I like the 
idea of HUGE DISCLAIMERS in state-required cutting/harvest plans as proposed 
for Arkansas (http://www.aristotle.net/~sierra/chip02.htm).  This is kind of a 
sneaky one, but it could work. 
 
Too bad with all these great ideas floating around, we can't get our national 
professional organization to back some or all of them. -G-
 
--
Karl Davies, Silviculturist
http://www.daviesand.com 
 
Northeastern Forestry Reformation List Server
http://www.daviesand.com/Connections/NEFR_List/nefr_list.html 
 
 
 
"Mark E. Nussbaum" wrote:
    In Missouri I don't believe that any existing personnel get TA money
    for salary to support the SIP program, but then we don't get any SIP
    money to speak of either.  The FIP program (state) is currently dry
    too, but I've heard that the state may kick in about $100,000 this
    year for silviculture.  This would be a huge amount compared to past
    budgets, but would amount to just under 1 cent per wooded acre.  To
    TSI only 10% of Missouri's forest would require about $39,000,000 in
    cost share monies, plus TA money.
 
Response from Karl Davies:
    But you do have a huge number of public foresters in Missouri and very
    few consultants, according to Doug and Don Staples, a Texas consultant
    from Missouri.  In my view, this situation is totally backwards.  State
    forestry employees have no incentives to make their state's forests
    productive.  Their only incentives are to expand and enhance their
    personal careers and their agencies.
 
    And yes, I do get testy about that subject, especially when I see them
    encouraging high-grading and marginalizing consultants.  This is the
    pattern in Massachusetts and most other states.  There are a few
    exceptions like North Carolina and Alabama.
  
"Mark E. Nussbaum" wrote:
    Yeah, there's lots of high grading around here.  We're fortunate to
    have soil types that produce excellent veneer white and red oak, and
    they get cut far too soon.  Also having problems with maple invasion
    and poor oak regen, now that fire is suppressed and the forests have
    an extremely closed canopy.
   
    I read your article on the 3-5% growth scam.  If that production
    figure is being used for economic decisions in your area then you've
    got some educating to do, both internally and externally.  Size at
    harvest means everything here.  I know I'm preaching to the choir, but
    here's an example of a white oak from my tree farm, good form and
    quality, with potential to have a 12' veneer butt log.  All diameters
    are small end of log, 12' long, with the prices that I receive.
 
Response from Karl Davies:
    These are very interesting numbers.  Would you mind if I put them into a
    table or spreadsheet for my web site?  I'm collecting information like
    this from other parts of the country.  See the attached spreadsheet I
    just did for southern pine.

  
"Mark E. Nussbaum" wrote:
    Cut at 12" (or under)
    70 bdft bringing $0.075/ft, or $5.25 to the owner
    These are the railroad tie and pallet markets.
   
    Cut at 13" (now can be a low grade log)
    85 bdft bringing $0.15/ft, or $12.75 to the owner
    Most of these go for wine barrels exported to France around here.
   
    Cut at 15" (now can be a high grade log)
    91 bdft bringing $0.40/ft, or $36.40 to the owner
    Notice that high grade logs are scaled on the Doyle scale, versus
    International
    for the low quality.  The Doyle scale favors the timber buyers on the
    small logs,
    which is (surprise) mostly what they buy.
   
    Cut at 17" (now can be a veneer log)
    127 bdft bringing $1.40/ft, or $177.80 to the owner
   
    Cut at 19" (very high veneer, few of these logs around)
    169 bdft bringing $2.30/ft, or $388.70 to the owner
   
    With a growth rate of 3"/Decade, which is very achieveable, I can
    raise that 12" log to a 15" log in 10 years for a 680% return,
    figuring a 2% death rate per decade.  In 20 years, I can raise the 12"
    log to 18" for a 3800% return.  It gets even bigger 3-4 years later
    when it becomes a 19" log.  In 23 years it goes from $5.25 to $375, 2%
    death rate/decade included.  This is what our foresters preach to us.
    It rarely gets heeded.  Isn't that amazing?  (I hope I got my percents
    right on the increase.  Anyhow, you see my numbers.)
 
 
Response from Karl Davies:
    But do your state foresters actually show you data like these?  Do they
    show you present and future values and rates of return with and without
    management?  BTW, you might translate those return numbers to IRR for
    people to understand them better.
 
  
"Mark E. Nussbaum" wrote:
    These are current prices.  They do fluctuate, but have increased 1 to
    2% above inflation for over 30 years.  I am one of the few people who
    have timber big enough to get the top prices.  For the top prices, I
    need 24"-30" DBH timber at harvest.  I harvest on a 15 year rotation,
    cutting about 2,800 bdft per acre average.
   
    Averaging the farm out, I grow about 220 bdft/year, cut about 180
    bdft/year (since some acreage isn't yet fully stocked) and have an
    inventory of about 5200 bdft/acre.
 
 
Response from Karl Davies:
    Sounds about right for SI 60 or so, correct?
 
  
"Mark E. Nussbaum" wrote:

    Dividing 220 bdft/year by 5200 bdft inventory yields 4.2% growth
    rate.  But that means nothing, really.  It's the combination of size
    and quality.  You must have both.  I average
    $0.196/bdft for my harvests the last few years.  It would be higher
    but I cut any poor quality tree in the stand, down to 10" DBH, which
    weights the total average toward the low value timber.  Only 125-150
    bdft of the 2800 bdft cut goes for the top price, but barring some
    disaster future cuts should have much more of the highest value
    timber.
 
 
Response from Karl Davies:
    Do you have data on percentages of trees advancing to higher grades per
    10 or 15 years?
 
"Mark E. Nussbaum" wrote:
    All remaining poor quality/undesireable trees get cut, whether 1" or
    36".  I drop them usually, with a few girdles for vertical habitat.  I
    don't see TSI as paying for itself by sales at all.  To me, it is
    entirely a weeding operation that pays for itself in the harvest cut.
    A farmer cultivating weeds out of soybeans doesn't expect for that
    tillage pass to pay for itself.  It's an investment that returns at
    the final harvest.
   
    My TSI work costs $40-55 acre, and I figure it returns about $190/acre
    after 10 years.  Some foresters value it higher or lower around here,
    but that's the value I use.
  
Response from Karl Davies:
    Have you seen Kurtz's bulletin at
    http://muextension.missouri.edu/xplor/agguides/forestry/g05151.htm? 
 
"Mark E. Nussbaum" wrote:
    I've got timber production records and prices from 1955 on my place,
    and a current cruise, so I trust my numbers enough to spend about
    $3600/year on TSI.  The last two years I applied for cost share and
    got about $1600 each year.  TSI pays because it accelerates growth in
    desired trees and reduces mortality in young desireable trees.  It
    also gets light on the ground, which helps oak regen.  I go from a
    basal area of about 105 to about 85 for a TSI pass.  A TSI pass
    following harvest goes for a 105 before to a 65-70 after, with
    attempts to leave 0.5-2 acre clearcuts where mature trees are cut and
    no desireable young trees are present.
   
    I work with cost share every day with NRCS.  Sometimes we get so
    involved with the everyday application that we forget why it's used.
    We use cost share to get people to try a practice that government
    believes is a net benefit to the person or to society.  It's hard to
    get people to truly try something new, especially when it costs money,
    and even more so when the return doesn't occur for years.  If we're
    going to really try to change people's thinking with cost share, it
    will cost a minimum of 2 to 3 million per year for the Ozarks alone.
    Think that's a lot?  We spend about 23 million/year for soil
    conservation cost sharing in Missouri alone, or nearly $1/acre/year
    for crop and pasture land.  We don't spend even 1 penny/acre on
    forestry.
  
Response from Karl Davies:
    I still think your time would be better spent educating people about the
    economics of tree value growth first, regardless of what means they use
    to accomplish it--TSI or commercial thinnings or improvement harvests,
    whatever.  Pushing TSI is sort of like putting the cart before the
    horse, IMO.  Besides, I'm just not sure it pays.  There are several
    research papers that indicate better returns if you wait until trees
    reach sufficient size for commercial thinnings.  These were studies in
    the Northeast and North Central regions, so things may be different for
    you.
  
"Doug Enyart, clwtrcon@show-me.net" wrote:
    One point I would disagree with, is the statement about TSI 
    being worth it.  Research papers can be found that show early 
    stocking control yielding the greatest return.  I have a place a 
    few miles from here that bears witness to that fact.  On 
    University Forest there is a small research plot where stump 
    sprouts were thinned three years after clearcut. I forget 
    exactly how many years ago it (the harvest) was, but the trees 
    were 12" and 14" diameter the last time I saw them, about 8 
    years ago.  The trees are at least 20 years ahead of other 
    stands the same age without treatment, probably more.  Quality 
    is better too.  PCT/TSI pays! 
     
Response from Karl Davies:
    I'd like to see those research papers.  Do you have the 
    references?  I'll swap you. 
 
"Doug Enyart, clwtrcon@show-me.net" wrote:
    Regarding the cost share programs, there is absolutely no reason 
    for this to remain the exclusive domain of the public Foresters.  
    We all have college degrees and, at least in my case, many of us 
    have done the paperwork before. The way I see it is that it is 
    just the same as a medical Dr. writing a Rx for drugs.  They 
    have oversight and regulations...and consequences for 
    misconduct.  We are fully capable of handling cost share 
    programs, so long as they exist, ourselves.  Probably better 
    than it's handled now. 
 
Response from Karl Davies:
    Right!  Especially when those "public" foresters end up 
    harassing us over 5 sq ft of stocking and they don't even know 
    what they're talking about.  Most of them are still going with 
    the old "round crown" stocking charts.  It's a racket. 
 
"Doug Enyart, clwtrcon@show-me.net" wrote:
    Another thing that disturbs me is that the ranks of the state 
    Foresters are filling with people who, quite frankly, just don't 
    understand basic forest mensuration.  Nor economics.  At U of 
    Missouri, Columbia the so called mensuration/statistics course 
    is a (read that one and only one) course on biometrics taught in 
    conjuction to forestry, fish, and wildlife majors. 
 
Response from Karl Davies:
    This is insane.  It's the same thing at UMass.  And they don't 
    even teach forest economics at UMass any more.  They haven't in 
    years. 
    
"Doug Enyart, clwtrcon@show-me.net" wrote:
    Folks, 
    forestry education without the indepth study of measuring trees 
    and forests is worthless.  Even 11 years ago when I hired on 
    with the state we went through a training session where we were 
    to measure 20 trees and estimate the volume.  The results were 
    put up on a board and it looked like a shotgun blast....sawed 
    off.  Numbers all over the chart. 
 
Response from Karl Davies:
    So did they straighten people out, or did they just leave it at that?
 
BTW, Marc said I could use those numbers he gave on a white oak 
tree.  So I put them into a spreadsheet, attached.  Do you think 
we could talk Bill Kurtz into writing this up for an extension 
bulletin? 
 


From: Stephen Guest

You don't know me from Adam. I'm a former journalist who some years ago underwent a kind of conversion from deep, deep green -- and a very leftish one, naturally -- to advocate for the logging industry. I got involved in politics as a young, leftish reformist and ended up a media manager for a labor government in Victoria. I kind of rode shotgun, in media terms, for several ministers whose departments covered agriculture, forests, public lands, water etc. It was a hell of a reality check.

Six years later I found myself happily working for the Victorian Association of Forest Industries as their public affairs manager. I was with VAFI for about seven years or more from early '87.

As an indication of just how profound was the change wrought in my thinking by the experience of being in government, where policy must be implemented (in opposition, all you have to is run off at the mouth and sound plausible to journalists...it's a soda, mate), try this:

When we (Labor) came to power in Victoria it was unshakeable conviction that our precious, disappearing forests were grossly and comprehensively mismanaged by incompetent bureaucrats and ruthless capitalists, that in any case Australia had such a tiny, tiny little forest estate that, even with good management -- if there was such a thing -- we couldn't afford to be cutting trees from our forests at all. Not, as the Australian Conservation Foundation -- the most politically active and influential of all the political green groups here -- even a single tree to put a roof over someone's head. I kid ye not. The ACF had a written policy that explicitly called for a complete end to all native forest logging and an end to all monocultural plantations -- softwood, hardwood, native trees, exotic trees, pulpwood or sawnwood. They had to go. If you had single species plantation crop already in

I have come to the view now that of all the awful things that have been done to Australia's unique island ecosystems by europeans with their farms and machines over the past 200 years, the extraction of timber from a native hardwood forest is about the only thing that makes any sense or looks any good at all.

I have observed the growth of the environmental movement for more than two decades. I have participated in it (I was a founding member of the local green push here in Geelong). I remain consumed by environmental issues. Yet I feel completely alienated from a movement that once seemed so promising. But I don't know which depresses me the more: the intellectual and indeed moral decline of the green movement... or the utter failure of the national media to apply any sort of intellectual test to what the greens throw up as policy. I don't respect my profession of journalism. That depresses me. I represent the third consecutive generation of journalists in my family. What an ugly crock of crap it turned out to be.

Essentially I think the greens here and probably elsewhere in the world (certainly in the western democracies) are at best pretty ordinary and at worst the absolute pits... they have been involved in some exceedingly ugly behaviour occasionally. But bad behaviour and bad manners are -- or should be -- no more than a minor nuisance, whereas bad policies tend to be considerably more significant. In the past couple of decades there have been some major political battles fought at both state and federal government levels over green issues. Yet I can really only think of one (one among the big six or seven anyway!) where I think the greens had it comprehensively right. One in particular, though, I regard as an act of almost culpable incompetence because it was not only significant from an Australian domestic perspective, but I believe it was also globally significant. That was the decision to virtually close down the entire wet tropical forest hardwood industry in Queensland. I'll tell you about that sometime. The implications of it still distress me. I believe it was arguably the single most important rainforest logging operation on earth, tiny though it was. But it was also then the world's only worthwhile working model of sustainable tropical rainforest logging. Just on our northern doorstep was some of the worst rainforest logging in the world. Instead of closing down our industry, we should have been developing a knowledge-based export industry around it. Instead of exporting our expertise, however, we shut the show down in the name of appeasing the greens... and immediately increased our imports of sawn tropical timbers from south east asia. It was as predictable as bloody sunrise: we produce less than we consume... we're net importers!

This history of generations of journalists comes from my mother's side of the family (my father was a newspaper man, too, but not a journalist)... her father, her brother, now (well, until a few years ago) her son. She had two brothers. I hardly new Jeff the Journo as he lived in another state. But I knew her brother John. He was for many years the head of the school of forestry within the science department at Melbourne University. I have apologised to him for all the bad thoughts I had about him when I a young, stupid, half-hippie, half-assed, left-leaning urban middle class baby boomer greenie. He has forgiven me.

I'm telling you all this because I have just discovered your website. It's nearly 1.30 am here and I ought to be in bed. I'll spend some visiting tomorrow. What I've seen so far looks excellent.


From: Al Justice

My name is Al Justice. I routinely look at your pages on Forestry in Kentucky, and had a couple of questions I wanted to see if you would mind answering.

I understand that modern Forestry grew out of concern caused by the desolation of forests caused by clear cutting between 1880-1930, at least in the E. US...

In S. West Virginia, efforts have been on-going for some time to develop the wood-products industry. Unfortunately, on private lands, which I'll discuss in a moment, there are no regulations concerning method of harvest, replanting, or soil disturbance. Am I correct in this thinking as far as you know?

Does Kentucky have similar situations?

The crux of the problem comes as a result of land ownership. Huge acreage is owned by absentee owners(thousands of acres). These adjacent plots are interrupted only by small plots (100 a. or less) that has been retained by families etc etc etc.

Our people have traditionally been agents in the extraction of raw materials in the past, whether coal or wood. Based on this, I'm not sermonizing to "save the whale", although I do admit subscription to such ideas.

My problems with the situation arise more along the lines of the following:

  1. Outmigration has created a potentially serious, acute, situation if economies of scale get carried away. With outmigration, goes people of thought and potential political action.
  2. The return of the mourning dove, explosion of the turkey, grouse, and deer population(even including a few wildcats), are more result of population and economic changes than conservation, especially in our region.
  3. Economies of scale, in full motion, have little regard for individuals, heritage (indian burial land, white and black unmarked graveyards, etc,etc), or investing in stable regional economic development. The last point, is probably the most important.
  4. Given other rural region's experience with economies of scale (1 million head pig farms in NC, similar experiences-different applications in other regions), what should a region with no controls be doing, to help ensure a balanced, sane, approach?

As one involved with forestry, I would be very interested in understanding your viewpoints on the above.

By the way, your web-pages are excellent.

regards,
al

al justice 
box 272 
war wv 24892

or 
SGA President
219 Rock Street 
Bluefield WV  24701

Reply from Duane:

You said a mouthful. Thank you for your interest and comments on my forestry pages. As you may know, I started a page at http://www.kyphilom.com/duane/wood/state.html which I hope to develop to address many of the same concerns mentioned in your message as regards Kentucky and Tennessee.

I had hoped that I would get messages such as yours and that a dialog on these issues could be started at http://www.kyphilom.com/duane/formail.html

  1. I did not get any messages of that type until yours.
  2. I got very busy and have not had time to complete the project at the state.html page.

I will make a stab at a few superficial answers to your questions here. I will then put your message and much of my answers on the forestry mail page mentioned above and hope we get some other responses.

Don't expect short, complete or even correct answers to everything you have asked. Hopefully, over time as I get time to work on the pages and we get input from others maybe a general consensus framework of answers will emerge.

As far as regulations regarding harvesting, there are none in Kentucky except general water quality regulations regarding sources of water pollution. As far as I know the situation is the same in West Virginia. A forester I know in Virginia tells me that harvesting is regulated in Virginia and, I think, North Carolina. There are also certain regulations regarding BMPs in Tennessee although I am not familiar with the details. There is a page on my site with much of the Tennessee BMP material.

I feel that although public environmental awareness is very important, the actual solutions to the problems you mention involve the political environment, economics of forestry, land ownership patterns, education, and population pressures. I have a few ideas along these lines which might be helpful although they are too lengthy to put in this message. I hope soon to be able to write a long essay on that subject to include on the web as a part of my state.html page. Dialog with people such as yourself will help to flesh out the details and, hopefully, make what I develop something useful.

Duane


Duane:

I did look over your page about timber harvests. It looks great! I wish I had the time to go through all of those things with a landowner when I help with harvests, but anymore, we mainly just provide advisory assistance. If they're lucky we may mark their timber, but we're getting out of that arena more and more as the consulting industry grows in the state.

Most landowners that I deal with will only sell timber once in their lifetime.

Ownership acreages are decreasing and urbanizing in my area, and past abuses through grazing and fire still predominate in otherwise nice stands. Bear in mind that "Nice" in Missouri is crap in Kentucky. This means that area or volume type management on private land is nominal at best, so I often provide a rule of thumb to remove about a third of the overstory in unmanaged mature/overmature stands depending on the cruise, the understory, and the landowners commitment level for follow up work. Lately, with good cooperators, I have been recommending more even-age management. I've always been told that this should not be done on private land because they'll convert the land use, but I think that's a crock. It's a great management tool for dealing with undesireable shade tolerants and meeting wildlife management objectives.

As for commentary... Well, I can give you my standard speil to answer timber sale questions... I like to describe to landowners the "usual" way in which timber is bought from private individuals, that being on shares, unmarked and without a contract. I then tell them that this is in no way a level playing field because the logger deals in timber all the time, whereas the landowner will only sell once or twice in their lifetime. An unmarked sale means that you don't know what it is that you are selling; no contract opens the door for liability and many other hassles; and on shares means that you'll need to be there every day to count loads so that you know how many tickets you should end up with to split, if not, the logger could pocket a ticket and you'd never know it. (The last is usually the clincher). I tell them to try to get as much of their money as possible up front and in a lump sum, be sure to have an end date on the contract, have the trees marked at eye level and on the stump, make sure boundaries are clear, solicit for as many bids as is feasible and possible, and monitor the work in progress as often as they can. I let them know that there's good and bad loggers out there, and that a contract can help in dealing with a moderately bad logger but not a really bad one and that a contract is mainly eyewash if they can get a good logger. I have a packet of info that I follow up with for sale requests. One handout I especially like is a comparison of bids from recent sales. When the landowner sees the wide variance between high and low bids, it seems to make an impression. I mostly try to deal with it from the perspective that it's the landowner's responibility to educate themselves and run a sale like any other business dealing which they would devote a considerable effort to. I can't babysit sales or do everything for the landowner due to the question of agency (I can only be an agent for the resource, not the landowner) and my time restraints.

I always like to recommend a consultant. I also give the warning that many consultants work sales for a percentage of the high bid and that since they are indeed human, this means that the more paint they squirt, the more money they get. (Sorry if this is offensive, but I've seen it happen).

I also try to provide water quality recommendations, follow up work needs, and any T&E stuff they should watch for...Indiana bats are an issue here with timber sales...no real restrictions, just recommendations. I also like to point out any other management opportunities that are ecosystem-based: savanna restoration, exotic plant treatment, cool-season grass conversions to natives etc. etc. I never recommend fescue or other invasive cool season exotics for follow up seedings. What else..?... Hmmm. Often the sale questions I get can lead into more interest in management overall of their resources and I try to take each request that way and see where it leads. Often I feel that I'm overloading them with information and try to recap with the important points.

Sender: Susan Troxel smtroxel@vax2.rain.gen.mo.us
Millersburg, MO


From: Al Justice

Dear Duane,

I'm sending you a copy of an article posted on West Virginia Highland Conversancy's (WVHC), web pages.
West Virginia Tree Harvest may Exceed Growth

Comments?

Reply from Duane:

Al,

The article basically points out that wood industries are fast moving into the state so that, for probably the first time since the great devastation of forest land that took place in the early part of this century (see the link to the West Virginia page on my forestry page), harvest is or soon will exceed growth. The article points out that this trend has begun and accelerated in the last few years.

I discovered about a year ago that exactly the same process has happened in Kentucky in the last couple of years and I suspect throughout the eastern states. My contacts in the Kentucky State Division of Forestry tell me that the information that they are getting indicates a huge increase in amounts harvested in 1994 and 1995. There is only a complete inventory of the forest resource carried out by the U.S. Forest Service about every ten to twelve years so only incomplete data is available at this time but indications from new wood industries moving into the state and estimations of the amount they are harvesting lead to the conclusion that overcutting is occurring. Also I recently talked to a forester who is a friend of mine and has been active in eastern Kentucky for about 40 years. He says that he has seen more logs and small timber moving on the roads and more denuded hillsides than at any time in his career.

This trend caused a number of people in Kentucky to demand some type of regulation of harvesting and the State Forester had prepared to work with the state legislature during their session at the first of this year on such legislation, but due to the politics of those elected last fall the subject was never addressed by the legislature. Since the legislature only meets every two years in Kentucky, it is unlikely that the situation will be addressed before 1998, if then. What is the political situation in WVA as regards this subject?


To: Al Justice

Al,

A follow up to our discussion about state laws and timber harvesting:

An Associated Press story in Friday's (Oct. 11) Courier Journal newspaper from Louisville says that an Eastern Kentucky legislator, State Rep. Herbie Deskins, D-Pikeville, tried proposing relatively stong measures to more closely regulate the booming logging industry to the legislature earlier this year. They went nowhere.

Bill Martin, the state's Natural Resources Commissioner, talked about a bill that would require loggers to get safety and environmental training and to take steps to minimize erosion. He said the bill is being drawn up by the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet with advice from a citizens group. It would stress cooperation, education, and incentives for protecting the environment, he said. It would have enforcement teeth for only the most flagrant violators. The cabinet plans to send what it's calling the Kentucky Forest Stewardship Act to Gov. Paul Patton at the end of the month.

Rep. Deskins is chairman of the interim joint committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. The current proposal seems to be too much for other members of the committee. "I'm not sure I see any demonstration of a problem," said Sen. Kim Nelson, D-Madisonville. "They talk about this problem of silt runoff into streams. Silt runoff created the Mississippi River Delta, which is some of the richest farmland in the world." Several other committee members agreed with Nelson. No one spoke in favor of a logging bill.

Members of an environmental group, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, say Kentucky is about to repeat mistakes made early in this century when much of Eastern Kentucky was stripped bare.

Update: October 31, 1996:

According to the "Courier Journal" newspaper, Kentucky Governor, Paul Patton, has reversed his opposition to government regulation of logging and now says his administration will propose laws to do so -- probably in a special legislative session next spring. Previously Patton had said that better education of loggers and landowners would be sufficient.

The proposed new controls would:

Comment by Duane:
Although these measures are a step in the right direction and will probably help to protect the environment, they do nothing to slow or halt the practice of cutting trees as soon as they reach merchantable size, a primary problem if one objective of forest management is to delay harvest until trees reach economic maturity. I suspect this problem can only be addressed by a program of economic incentives for landowners. I will soon outline my thoughts on such a program on this web site on my continuing project, The State of Forest Conservation in Kentucky

From: Al Justice

I'm excited about Governor Patton's decision.

First, Thanks for taking time to forward this news. If the state regulates logging, I know you know, there are some other issues that arise. Still, I too would choose this route as the lesser of two evils.

Especially in Eastern Kentucky, I am just wishing, but I would hope that a program of diversified economic development would complement the logging industry, as a real effort to plan for the long term.

Some elements that might allow a progressive approach to wood-products might be:
high-tech
fishing and hunting
tourism
education
health care (the wholistic type-i.e. mountains,scenery)
wood-products.

Note that I placed wood... on the bottom of the list. With a world that is becoming more and more international, even the visionary elements above are not so far out in left field. In Robert Frost's poem, "The Mountain", he saw many potentialities after having climbed to the ridge. These are the days we live in too, I think.


To: Al Justice

An update on the situation as regards efforts to regulate logging in Kentucky!

The Courier Journal (Jan. 18, 1997) says that Kentucky Governor Patton's effort to ask the General Assembly to regulate logging may be postponed to the next regular session of the legislature in early 1998 rather than to a special called session this spring.

The proposed legislation would:

Options for paying the $4.8 million estimated start up cost for the program and $1.9 million annual cost thereafter include increasing timber property taxes, a timber severance tax, or using money from the state's General Fund.

My comments:
Timing: The greatly increased cutting that we have discussed previously has been going on for about three years now. Waiting another year for the next regular session of the General Assembly and then, perhaps, another year for setting up implementation of whatever law is passed seems foolhardy.

Results: Cost sharing, public education, and forest management planning assistance, although good programs, are unlikely to have any significant impact on the forest situation as discussed elsewhere on this site. I believe that only a program that addresses the economic basis of timber cutting is likely to be significant as far as delaying harvesting until trees reach maturity. I do believe that a program of logger training and certification in use of BMPs, if it is seriously implemented, will be very helpful in terms of protecting the environment. In overall perspective though, as far as threats to the environment, logging damage is not of great significance. It is simply the problem most visible to the public. Of course, with the present trend of cutting smaller trees on a shorter cutting cycle logging damage does increase in significance.

I guess a lot of this boils down to whether our purpose is only to protect the environment or also to provide for the greatest long term good to the wood industry. Perhaps the days of producing the maximum amounts of the highest quality hardwoods is past. It may be that the only economically viable course is to produce the maximum quantity of wood fiber in the shortest possible amount of time. Maybe it makes more sense to harvest large quantities of pole sized poplar every twenty or thirty years rather than waiting sixty to eighty years for huge oaks, maples, walnuts and cherries to mature.

As for financing, the wood industry opposes a timber severance tax. The legislators will probably oppose a program which takes more money from the General Fund. Landowners will oppose increased property taxes. As I have said before, I believe that increasing property taxes leads to more frequent harvest while the use of severance taxes tends to delay harvest. The newspaper article also mentions allocating a portion of state property taxes on forest lands to this program. But this idea is, of course, just another case of the smoke and mirrors that politicians love. Obviously, if you simply reallocate taxes already being collected this is the same as using General Fund money because this would require using money that would, otherwise, be used for another purpose.


From: Al Justice
and From: Rosetta

Question from Al:
Have you heard of the Dogwood Alliance? They are a conservation group dedicated to lambasting chip mills? Any insights on chi....? Any reservations?

Question from Rosetta:
Hi, Duane & Eva, I am interested in the impact of the proposed oriented strand board mills and pulp mills that are coming to eastern Ky and surrounding states. Particularly the amount of timber that will be used and the type of timber that will be cut. Would appreciate any info you have. I am student at U of L.

Answer by Duane:

I am not familiar with the Dogwood alliance. My position as a forester who believes that the Appalachian area should be producing high quality hardwood timber is that there is a place for chip mills, pulp mills, pallet factories and other users of small and low quality trees, but to the extent that production for these markets becomes a primary goal, then high quality hardwood production is diminished.

In terms of fiber most of the wood that our forests are capable of producing has its best utilization in these markets and they are essential to provide an economic basis for carrying out thinnings, weedings, and other timber stand improvement practices. The problem comes when the objective of harvest becomes not to improve the stand to later produce higher value products but only to produce for these markets. This often happens and in these cases the existence of these markets leads to overcutting and degradation of the woodland. Unlike many preservation groups which consider themselves conservationists, I do not believe that there is anything bad about fiber markets as such, but only that the problem is in the way landowners allow them to use the forests.

This ties in to my previous arguments that any real conservation efforts in appalachian hardwoods must come through economics rather than public relations efforts. As to the feelings expressed by yourself and others that the primary purpose of our forests should be for watershed protection, wildlife, recreation, aesthetics, tourism, etc., I believe that you can economically achieve those goals only through multiple use policies which allow for and encourage proper forest management based on quality timber production.

I argue that the best use of abandoned cotton fields in the south may very well be 30 year rotations of pines clearcut for pulpwood and replanted, but the best use of steep appalachian mountainsides is in 80 year rotations of high quality hardwoods harvested in some type of selection system allowing for various intermediate or improvement cuts and aimed toward natural reproduction either from seed tree or coppice methods. I also believe that such a system can easily achieve the goals of most members of environmental organizations.

I also realize that economists for the fiber industry may be able to make a convincing economic argument that highest returns may come from much shorter rotations, fiber rather than lumber. I think and hope that those arguments are flawed, if in no other way than because they do not properly account for the aesthetic values of forests to our nation.

As is typical with me, a long answer to a short question.

Reply From: Al Justice

Duane,

I am a proponent to diversified approach to economic development that includes climax forest management... However, as we saw with strip-mining (Whitewood-Hurley Va area, McDowell county WV, others...), economic and conservation goals are rarely in sync...especially in rural parts of the mountains.

As a biosphere, there are many important considerations as well..

Finally, scales of economy, in regions of large absentee ownership, are a re-emerging reality that should be re-evaluated in light of all the other considerations.


From: Fred E. Coy, Jr.

Dear Duane Bristow:

I am presenting a paper on "The Splash Dams of Kentucky's Red River Gorge" the annual meeting of the Kentucky Heritage Council at Natural Bridge March 15.

I am a neophyte at this web business but today I thought that I would do some surfing and see if there was any information on splash dams in the eastern United States. While looking around your fine paper on "Forest Conservation in Kentucky" came up.

I would like to pick your "forest history" brain about a question that has me stumped. 25 years ago when obtaining some oral histories on the subject one of the men that had worked on splash dams in the Red River area in the early 1900s told me that the use of splash dams had been outlawed by an act of the state legislature. I have not been able to substantiate this statement. I hope that you can give me some information. If you have any "pearls" on Kentucky splash dams I would appreciate them.

Yours truly,
Fred E. Coy, Jr.

Answer by Duane:
I'm sorry but I do not have any information about splash dams. I assume that by splash dams you mean the practice of moving logs by water by building a dam on a stream, getting the logs into the pond thus formed and then breaking the dam causing the logs to be washed downstream in the flood which results. Although I have heard of the practice, I have never seen it in use and I am unfamiliar with any legislation concerning splash dams.

I will, however, put your question on my forestry email page in case some others of my visitors might have information they would like to contribute.


Chip Mills in Tennessee

From: Vic Scoggin
Duane, Your site on Kentucky hardwoods is going to thrill the people down here in Tennessee. It seems the foresters in Kentucky, as yourself, care about the woods. It seems the foresters in Tennessee were taught to find a way to cut them all down. Our hardwoods are being chipped away, literally, along the Tennessee river by over 130 chip mills. They are sending the chips down the Tombigbee Waterway to Mobile, then on to Japan. It is even being sent back to us at a profit. The chip mills next stop is the Cumberland Valley, then into Kentucky. There aren't many laws to stop this destruction. The chip mills go through as much or more timber in one month than a regular sawmill does in a year. Your site and your wealth of information will definitely help with "Saving The Cumberland"

Reply from Duane:
I have long maintained that, for the appalachian hardwoods in Kentucky and Tennessee, fiber markets like chip mills and pulp mills have their best use only in markets for wood removed in thinnings and improvement cuts and not as a market for all wood produced. That is because that the best use of these hardwoods is in providing high quality sawtimber and veneer wood and in other forest benefits including aesthetics, recreation and watershed protection. However, due to the economic situation, ownership patterns, and lack of leadership by state governments the situation you describe is likely to continue for the forseeable future. There does not seem to be much public demand for good forest management either.

Management of the pine plantations on abandoned farm fields in the south is different than that of mountain hardwoods but many foresters were trained in southern forestry schools and try to apply southern pine management to central hardwoods.


Some comments on timber harvesting in Kentucky and West Virginia

From: Al Justice
In traveling, I've seen that timber harvest is definitely booming in a very wide region from W. NC back to Charleston WV, and from what I gather in E. KT. ?From other sources, I 'hear' throughout the SE U.S...

From: Duane
You are definitely right about the boom in timber harvest. I recently was invited as a visiting lecturer for a class of forest technicians at a University of Kentucky community college. As I told them, the problem is not so much the increase in timber harvest as in the way the harvest is conducted in terms of sizes, quality and species of trees. IOW cutting everything rather than using markets for small wood products as an opportunity to improve stands by thinnings, cleanings, and release cuttings.

From: Al Justice
Ya know, for me, and I think maybe at least a little for you, seems to be the concerns related to overharvest, and the macroeconomics of the whole situation.

From: Duane
As I have argued constantly any solutions to the problems we perceive in the way timber is harvested must lie in economic manipulations.

From: Al Justice
There is no way really to put a check on folk's desire to make a dollar, and shouldn't be; however, I know also in significant regions where an assertive harvest is taking place, diversified economic development is a very real issue. While we see ethics as a revisited theme in the broader economy, I suppose the question that comes is how ethics relates to regions where raw material extraction dominates the economy.

From: Duane
Basically people have to believe strongly enough that there are more long term economic and other benefits to proper timber management than to a short term cut out and get out philosophy that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is and change the situation.

Two recent changes in the proposals for timber harvest regulation in Kentucky include requirements that loggers register each logging job with the state and be subject to random inspections of the logging job to see that it is in conformity with whatever regulations are finally enacted.


This is a message reprinted from the Agroforestry News Group
and used with the permission of the author.

From: Larry Caldwell

"Ron Wenrich" wrote:
I was wondering if a Forest Practices Act has had any influence on forest management in states that have instituted it. I think it's a good idea to have all professionals in the woods licensed. This would include foresters as well as loggers. Tax incentives may be offered to those carrying out good forest stewardship. As for the state reviewing private forester's work, I would welcome it. It may help eliminate some of the problems of economic clearcuts. But, it would only work as long as the state is not rubber stamping the plans. Anybody out there have experience with working in a state with a Forest Practices Act?

Well, I'm approaching it from the standpoint of a landowner rather than a forester, but Oregon has a Forest Practices Act. Forestry is a major part of the state's economy. Even with the recent limits on harvest of federal lands, forestry plays tag with high tech for the #2 industry spot. BTW, we have a LOT of high tech.

There is a major property tax advantage to managing land for forestry. It relieves you of 90% of the tax burden on the property, and in addition the timber is not calculated as part of the taxable value. You actually pay property taxes on less than 10% of the value of the bare land, so the property tax alone pays for forest management. In addition, 40% of reforestation and afforestation expenses can be claimed as a tax credit on the state income tax over 3 years.

I've also been surprised to read timber prices in other parts of the country. Maybe it's the presence of so many highly efficient computerized mills, but rumor has it that stumpage prices for Doug fir will hit $750/mbf this summer.

I do a lot of my own work, but have hired foresters for advice and consulting from time to time. The last property I sold brought a premium price because I paid for a cruise when fir was $1,000/mbf and tacked the timber value onto the sale price. I got the money too.

Millionaires are pretty thick on the ground around here. A friend just hired a forester to lay out a commercial thinning on a 350 acre parcel. Current cruised value on the timber that will be left standing is about $2.5 million. He's getting a lot of work and a quarter million dollars out of the scrub and trash. He's retired and doesn't need the money. Twenty years from now, his 4 kids will all be millionaires.

I'm dickering with a friend to buy the 160 acres next to me. He's been dragging his feet for a year now because he just doesn't want the money. He bought it two years ago, logged it, paid for it out of the proceeds, pocketed a big wad of cash, and is sitting on it.

This county has about 2.7 million acres of timber. The state has one public forester that works private parcels. All the big timber companies like Weyerhauser and Boise Cascade hire their own, the BLM and USFS have foresters, and there are several consulting foresters in the phone book. I don't know what kind of living they make, but there seems to be plenty of work. It may be a function of population. The largest town in the county is only 19,000 people, so we're dealing with a large resource base and a small population to deal with it.

Agriculture and food production leads the state economy with $5 billion annual gross. Timber and high tech manufacturing tie with about $2.5 billion apiece. Most of this is new wealth, not pass through economic activity. In a state with a population of only 3 million, that is a really sweet annual cash flow. It's considered good politics to promote that through laws and tax structure.

With the population exploding and resources getting tight, it only makes sense to promote productive use of the land. Forestry is a wonderful soil conservation practice, and a nice low-input production technique. Good luck getting your local laws changed. A good FPA is a wonderful asset to the landowner too.


From: Elise Moss

I expect you will be surprised to hear that I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Northern California. But I guess that is the "power of the internet".

I am very impressed with your webpage. I have been looking at webpages created by foresters and LTOs for a few weeks now and yours is the most informative, the one most entertaining, and the one which is the least biased. I have signed onto a few timber companys' pages where I actually felt slimy afterwards, and a few where it felt like I had wandered into a "switch & bait" operation, where they purported to be "pro-responsible forest management", but upon further reading were more interested in furthering their own agenda, which was to cut down as many trees, as quickly as possible.

I have asked my group to consider adding your webpage as a link, simply because it does have so much good information. Our webpage URL, if you are interested, is www.octane.dasb.fhda.edu/forest.

Our background, in case you are interested, is that we are primarily mountain residents in a small community. I think there are probably fewer than 50,000 people spread out over the Santa Cruz Mountains area. It is very rural even though it is so heavily populated. The loggers having virtually stripped the redwoods from Mendocino and Humboldt counties (several hundred miles north of us) have moved into our area. They are logging using cable yarding, helicopters, basically anything they can get away with. And they are making the same mistakes they made up north. They are overharvesting, they are not protecting our watercourses, they are damaging our roads, they are causing massive landslides (in some cases resulting in deaths).

My group sincerely believes that there should be methods out there where trees can be cut without someone dying for it. We are not "anti-logging" or "tree-huggers", but we do value our lives and the lives of our children.

The CDF (California Dept of Forestry) has recently done a turn-around and begun enforcing our Forest Practice Rules due to the tremendous community outcry. But I definitely feel the BMP is more the way to go. Some of our rules sound similar to the BMP, but there is a definite gap in some areas, particularly when dealing with watercourses and soil erosion issues.

Our area was clearcut (except in the most steepest locations) at the turn of the century, so we are primarily evenaged stands of 100 year old redwood trees. However, the loggers in their greed (they can get as much as $8,000 per tree) are going after trees even on mountain sides with an 80% grade or more.

Additionally, because this is a heavily populated area, we have traffic congestion issues with slow moving logging trucks using the public roads for their haul routes.

And there is a major noise issue. The loggers can operate from 7 am to 9 pm and many people work out of their homes. It is very difficult to put a baby down for a nap with chainsaws going off outside your window.

I guess other than the flattering comments, I am asking how did your state get loggers to buy into the BMP? And how does the BMP really work? My understanding is that it is voluntary?

Elise Moss
Neighbors for Responsible Logging

From: Duane
The Internet brings me visitors from all over the world, usually 200 to 300 visitors per day. However, only about one or two per day take the time to write a nice message such as yours and let me know what they think about what I have to offer.

Actually the BMP page on my website is from Tennessee, not Kentucky. In Tennessee implementation of BMPs is voluntary. However, a proposal by the Governor of Kentucky which will probably be taken up by the General Assembly in their next regular session next January would make BMPs mandatory in Kentucky. This would be implemented by requiring loggers to be licensed and to report the location of all logging jobs which would then be subject to random inspections for compliance with BMPs.

From: Elise Moss

One of the members of our group has suggested that we create our own BMP guidelines.

Currently in the state of California, all timber operators and registered professional foresters must be licensed. The licenses are fairly low cost (under $100 per year). They must abide by the Forest Practice Rules. All logging operations are subject to inspection by the California Dept. of Forestry.

However, there are still problems. Logging is a fairly industrial operation and it just does not mix well in a populated area like the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Recently, my group has managed to get several timber harvest plans denied. We are now being approached by the loggers, hat in hand as it were, asking us to define for them what they need to do in order to get us off their back.

One of our group has suggested that we create our own version of the BMP so that we can pass it to each logger prior to their THP. That way we don't have to re-invent the wheel each time.

This seems to me to be a reasonable goal as it would promote responsible logging (and create a sustainable harvest). It would give the loggers written guidelines to follow, so they won't be able to say, "those tree-huggers, they don't know what they want"

Of course, our BMP would also be completely voluntary, but it would ensure that 50 or more people would not show up at each THP hearing and demand it's denial..as long as the logger agreed to comply with the guidelines.

Hopefully, as we gain credibility, our state legislature would see fit to modify the forest practice rules to comply with BMP standards.


From: Greg Howard

Hey Duane,

I've really been learning a lot from your homepage. I work at Appalshop helping people use media to address social issues that concern them. We tend to concentrate on welfare and forestry--two big ones here in Letcher Co.

As far as forestry goes, the focus has been on how to create good jobs with the woods we have, and on logging practices (and how these things might be related). Lately, I have been trying to understand kilns, and why we don't have one around here. I was also curious about your comment concerning clear-cutting. People talk about it a lot here. Is even aged pine forests the only time this practice makes sense? I know there are several perspectives from which "makes sense" can be addressed, but if you had time to give me an answer I would appreciate it.

Thanks,

Greg Howard
c/o Appalshop
306 Madison St.
Whitesburg KY 41858

From: Duane
See The Practice of Forestry in the mountains of Kentucky.


From: Judy Hines

Duane

I'm a member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and am looking for alternative logging examples that we can use in educating land owners that are looking to harvest their timber. Could you point me in the direction of some loggers that use horses, or any other alternative logging?

From: Duane
As I am sure you know, there are very few loggers remaining who use horses and mules primarily because it just isn't as economical as mechanized equipment and probably won't be unless landowners are willing to accept less for their timber in order to get it logged with horsepower.

I did know of a few horse and mule loggers several years ago, but I don't think any of them are still logging that way. I believe there was a story in the "Rural Kentuckian" magazine (published by the RECC) within the last couple of years about a guy who is still logging with horses in Kentucky but I don't remember the person or the issue of the magazine.

Other than that you might check these links:
Horse and Mule Loggers' Association
Rural Heritage


From: Jefferson G. Edgens, Ph.D.
Natural Resources Policy Specialist
University of Kentucky
Department of Forestry

Dear Mr. Bristow:

I am with UK-Extension. I have visited your web page and found it extremely useful, especially the segment on Forest Conservation in KY.

By the way, I am intrigued on your concept of Purchase of Timber Rights. I was involved in Michigan on Purchase of Development Rights on agricultural lands. I would like to discuss this idea with you at greater length.

Look forward to dialoguing with you in the future.

cheers,
jeff


From: Brenda Shaughnessy
Just a quick question for you. I don't understand how individual tree selection will eventually destroy even aged pine forests. Could you possibly enlighten me? Thanks a bunch.

From: Duane
In general, southern pines are shade intolerant meaning that they grow best in full sunlight. That is why they thrive best when established in open areas such as fields and clearcut stands producing even aged stands. Cutting individual trees in such a stand produces a partially shaded site for reproduction of the next generation of trees. In this environment some of the more shade tolerant hardwoods will usually outgrow and shade the pines until they die or become stunted and fail to grow thus converting the pine stand to hardwoods.

Shade intolerant species are favored by some form of clearcutting while shade tolerant species are favored by selective cutting.


Jump back to top of document.
Back to forestry mail page.
Back to Forestry Page.

| Welcome| Index| New| Review| Map| Top Pages|


Last revised March 17, 2002.

URL: http://www.kyphilom.com/duane/formail1.html

Go to Top Menu.. ..of Duane & Eva's Old Kentucky Home Page

Duane Bristow (oldky@kyphilom.com)

Please send comments.
All contents copyright (C) 2001, Duane Bristow. All rights reserved.