Timber Income for the Careful Forest Owner

Many woodlot owners are concerned about the whole idea of logging. It seems like it causes great destruction to the forest and it just isn't right to cut down the magnificent trees that took years to grow. This point of view is widespread and has caused some forest owners to overlook the importance of good forest management.

Southern Tier forests are adapted to natural disturbances such as windstorms, severe winters, fire, and floods. These events were more common in centuries past. Modern forests can benefit from occasional timber harvests for firewood or income.
It is possible to earn income from a timber sale, while minimizing the ecological impacts.

Here are some tips for enjoying your forest, earning income, and sustaining the ecological health of the woodlot:

Reject surprise offers to cut timber on your property. Loggers who make "cold calls" seldom have your interests in mind. In many cases, landowners have been cheated out of the real value of their timber, thinking that the offer was too attractive to pass up. "Just Say NO to High Grading" web article

List the things about your forest that are important to you. This list represents your goals for the forest.

Mark your forest boundaries clearly on a map and in the woods. Use bright flagging to mark the actual property line, which helps prevent timber theft. If your property survey is outdated, consider hiring a surveyor to make corrections and updates. Maintaining Forest Property Boundaries from NC Cooperative Extension (PDF)

Walk your woods with a volunteer Master Forest Owner or a DEC forester. Their free advice will help you gain insights about how timber is managed and sold these days.DEC foresters can also inventory your woodlot. Consider contacting Cornell Cooperative Extension for information about non-timber woodland projects like ginseng production, forest-grown mushrooms, and maple syrup production. Master Forest Owner Program | DEC Assistance for Private Forest Landowners

Investigate cost-sharing programs available through the Natural Resource Conservation Service, DEC, and your county Soil and Water Conservation District. These government programs greatly reduce your costs for planting trees, creating habitat, preventing destructive forest fires, and forest health improvement. Natural Resources Conservation Service programs in New York

Develop a forest management plan. These plans are required for property tax breaks, cost-share programs, and similar activities. If your plan stipulates a timber sale, contact a DEC Cooperating Consulting Forester. This list of consulting foresters is available through the DEC or Cornell Cooperative Extension. The consulting forester you chose can review your plan, mark trees to be harvested, and request bids from logging companies. The company submitting the highest bid, and is willing to harvest according to your plan, can sign a timber sale contract. This contract focuses the harvest to the marked trees for a set compensation. You may have to negotiate items like habitat restoration, removal of tree tops, and erosion control activities. DEC Cooperating Consulting Foresters information

Investigate future forest projects, and plan accordingly. You may wish to have a second harvest in several years, cut firewood, establish trails and hunting areas, or reinvest the income in forest management equipment.