Harvesting Timber on Your Property
One thing about timber, like land, is that there isn’t an endless supply, which is what makes it so valuable. Take a quick look around you, whether you’re in your home, office or outdoors, and the chances that you’re going to see something made of wood is pretty good. If not, you might ought to reconsider your life plans.
Landowners choose to sell timber for a number of reasons, including managing the forests, cash money, clearing debris from a natural disaster, avoiding such catastrophes as beetle kill or to make a cow pasture or a row-crop plot. Whatever your reasoning, take the time to consider the pros and cons of timber removal. Also, and this is very important, research the company (or companies) you are considering using to do the logging. This thorough background check can help you deduce the not-so-reputable timber companies from the pile and concentrate on the ones that haven’t “ripped anyone off,” for lack of a better way to put it.
Consider the Ultimate Goal
Again, why are you having timber cut from your property? Will the cash value surpass the damage to the land? Because a clear cut is not a pretty result. Not to mention the ruts formed by continues treks of logging trucks, skidders, bulldozers and other heavy equipment that might be used. If it’s forest management, have this plan in order before you ever contact a logging company. Farming trees is a such a long-term investment that you don’t want to mess up decades worth of work and careful planning.
Check, Then Check Again (The “Don’ts”)
Start with about five timber companies that seem to “check out” on the Internet. If you ever come across one that has been incorporated in a different state under a different name, watch out. This likely means they’ve declared bankruptcy after intentionally wronging someone so they wouldn’t have to repay what they owe - a ploy not unheard of.
Check references. See if you can visit the land of an owner where the prospective company has recently harvested. Look for the inevitable physical signs of damage then try to imagine the same scars on your own property. Ask yourself again, Is it worth it?
Mark the specific trees with spray paint that are to be cut. Don’t be afraid to get the local forester and county land agent involved. They can help you regularly check to make sure the loggers are staying true to the contract throughout the process. Don’t ever let the buyer change what’s called your “harvest plan” after the job has started. This can prove damaging to the land and you’re payout.
Don’t take the first offer that comes along and certainly never take an offer when the potential buyer’s assessment of the timber is at face value. They might try to lowball you by claiming inadequacies in the trees that simply do not exist. Again, get a forester involved. As long as he is in no way associated with the logging company, he’ll have your back.
Require a Down Payment
A hefty one at that! Receiving up to 25% of the agreed-upon price is fair to ask once the contract is signed. Then, you should get the complete payment the day harvest begins. Let the buyers/logging company assume all the financial risk. However, this is all the more reason to check on their progress daily as they might try to sneak a few by you.
Choose the Correct Time of Year
Where on the property will the cutting take place? Will there be heavy equipment rolling over soft, sensitive ground? If so, we’d suggest planning the harvest for winter when the ground is hard or summer when the ground is dry. Gouging, deep ruts damage the land in a way that takes a long time to heal.
Respect Thy Neighbor
Always be a good neighbor. Let them know that logging activity is about to take place in their area so that they’re not caught off guard by all the heavy equipment and noise disrupting the peace and quiet. Even though they may not like it, at least they’ll be prepared.
Selling anything can be tricky. With timber, a lot of things will be out of your control. It’d be nice to have the resources to physically do it yourself, but facts are facts, that just can’t happen in most cases. If you don’t live on the property or don’t live close, rely on the forester to be your eyes and ears. There are several ways to find a forester; ways which we will discuss later.