We are cutting timber on several tracts in two states as I'm writing this. Though I'm not a logger or a graduate forester, I do know more than the average
bear about timber management. That being said, I still use a professional forester on all of the tracts where we manage timber...always!
Here are the main reason why I do it:
1. THEY KNOW MORE THAN ME. I am an experienced land broker in 6 states and have personally been involved with tens of thousands of acres of timberland.
But the guys I use to help me plan, manage, and harvest timber still know that side of business way better than I.They have seen and experienced countless
situations, in various markets and conditions, on many more acres of timberland than I have. Their insight is likely going to have more depth than
mine in this field.
2. THEY'LL USUALLY PAY THEIR OWN WAY. I have yet to have a situation where the foresters I use haven't exceeded my expectations in the final tally of sales
and condition of the property when the logging was done. The 7-10% they charge me for the work has been offset in the increased level of merchandising
of timber their on-site presence brings. This detail results in better utilization - and pricing - for my timber. They also are able to work their
contacts to get me the best price available in the current market. This all adds up to more to than paying their own way!
3. THEY HAVE SOURCES. Sometimes quotas and available logging operators gets tight. My foresters reach out to their contacts and usually get my jobs done
when others may be getting squeezed some. This is important when you're using the timber to reduce principal on bank notes and every day your timber
remains on the stump means more interest to pay and less profit at the end. Having the ability - or the contacts! - to get it done this month, instead
of next month, is worth a lot of money. I have some contacts, but my foresters have many more.
4. THEY UNDERSTAND THE GROUND. What I mean by this is that the guys I use have good sense. They've been on enough tracts, seen enough different topography,
timber, etc. to be able to help me think through and plan how best to manage and utilize a tract for different things. I can get them to walk and talk
with me...kinda like a sounding board...and hear me out on my ideas and thoughts. They understand things well enough that I can trust their opinions,
criticisms, and even confirmations of my ideas. They have an above-average working knowledge of game management, drainage, land clearing, equipment,
outdoor recreation, etc. I know we're talking the same language and they just "get it" and can see from my perspective. You need someone you can bounce
ideas off of - in all areas of your life, not just land! - and know they understand you well enough to be able to offer good information in support.
5. YOU MAY NEED THEIR PROFESSIONAL CREDIBILITY. There are some projects that require the official involvement of a certified forester to get an OK
to harvest timber. We recently select-cut approximately 200 acres of bottom land hardwoods on a tract that was enrolled in WRP (Wetlands Reserve
Program). This required a permit from the USDA's NRCS department. They wanted a forester to cruise, tally, and mark the trees in accordance with
some detailed specifications. I had a forester-friend who had done these type projects before do this work for us. I then had another forester-friend
oversee the logging operation. This was a unique job that required attention to detail. I needed guys I knew and could trust. I'm glad I had already
built a working relationship with them to have the confidence they would do just what I needed to keep me out of trouble with the USDA! When you
have a job like this, you do not want to be getting a stranger's name and number from a Google search.
6. THEY MANAGE THE DETAILS. I've learned two big lessons about logging operations over the years. First, to get the best work done during and after
the operation, you need to be on site. Second, I can't be on-site. At least not as often as needed. But my forester can! No, he's not there
24/7, but he's on the job enough to be sure things are going as they should be. He can redirect things mid-stride and help the operator adjust
things to maximize the harvest for quality and quantity or avoid potential issues. He can see that the site is left in as good of condition as
possible. He can be sure roads and trails are left in good shape. He can even orchestrate the development of some new roads, food plots, duck holes,
etc. with the logger's equipment while they're there.
7. MORE THAN JUST LOGGING. If you buy enough tracts or keep the one you have long enough, there will come a time you need additional timberland services.
Planting, cruising, spraying, looking for cost-share programs, controlled burns, etc. will pop up. Your forester will know who to call, what prices
to look for, and how to oversee the projects to look out for your best interest.
8. OPTIONAL REASON. They are fun to harass! This may not be as important to you as it is to me. I'm a smart-alec by nature so this is on my list. These
"brush beaters" and "log jockeys" are easy to screw with. Just quiz them on the difference between Quercus alba and Quercus lyrata and watch their
heads explode. Ask them indignantly, "Didn't you pass your dendrology class"? Argue with them that the Cow oak and Swamp Chestnut oak ARE NOT the
same tree. (Note: they are the same tree but your goal here is not accuracy but antagonism.)
As I'm writing this, I have three foresters on the job in two states. I have used them before in various ways and have complete confidence the jobs
will end as good or better than I expect. They get the credit for that. Good foresters are worth what they charge. Use them and enjoy the satisfaction
of knowing your tract is in good hands...and tweak them from time to time just to keep them humble! :)
- Pat Porter, Broker for RecLand