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Land Management

Logging your land

Wow! The power of economics… a force to be reckoned with, it can change the way we look at the forest for sure. See, I must confess, I actually got into Forest and Land Management as a covert radical environmentalist with the dastardly plan of “changing the system from the inside.” I switched my major from Computer Science to Forestry because I’d had an epiphany that I could do more good for Mother Earth as an industry insider, as opposed to protesting, eco terrorism, and the like. Well, I ended up getting an education in balance and in understanding the science and socioeconomic aspects of forest and land management. I ended up being a firm believer in good logging, as a renewable resource that was part of the solution, more than the problem. But I had never really experienced the true impact economics has on silviculture practices or how we log our land when we are struggling financially.

 I have been wanting to log my property or “bring it under management” for some time but planned on having a professional outfit come out and do the logging. I would mark all the trees to leave and they would fell trees, skid, buck and haul them to the mill. I planned on leaving all the biggest and best trees, plus more as an under-story of hardwoods and shade tolerant species.

But now… I am poor, now I am struggling like so many others to make my mortgage payments, insurance, and other bills, and now, when log prices are at their lowest, I have no options but to log to make “ends meet.” So as I mark the timber, all of a sudden I am not so clear on if I really need to leave all the biggest trees and really, how many trees  are enough to shade a creek? What is enough shade? Why not substitute two or three small, suppressed, no-value trees to leave as opposed to that one big one?

I wanted to encourage grass growth under the trees to increase forage for my horses but now I am wondering if I do not want to create some large pasture areas and cut all the trees in those places... the questions are endless when economics and environmental integrity must be mixed. The challenges are varied and complex. The decisions made will carry forward for about a hundred years or more.

I have done timber harvest jobs on  and belonging to friends and relatives and that is complicated, too, but in the opposite spectrum… you don’t want to leave a friend or relative’s property all logged over and environmentally compromised for the next hundred years. So, when economics are not an issue the Land Manager leans to the side of less wood for the mill. Now that I face economic pressures I find my sympathies more in line with the mill.

 In order to leave the land environmentally and esthetically improved and maximize revenue, one must be much more honest with themselves regarding their needs and the needs of the land. We must think out of the box, to leave the property beautiful, be practical and yield sufficient revenue. This involves a lot of tricks to maximize the scale or volume measurements at the mill, which will be discussed along with other specifics of do- it-yourself logging.

I’m doing all the felling, skidding, bucking and hauling to mill by myself with two chain saws, a small farm tractor with a winch, and a four wheeler with a winch and a heavy-duty trailer. So far I have hung up several trees in the canopy and dropped a couple trees across some fencing too. It is a learning experience for sure but stay tuned for this wild, real world drama… at least to see if I survive.

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Author info

Michael White Michael White is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker - Sterling Society and a consultant for Northwest Group In-Land. He has a BS in Forest Resources & Ecosystem Management and specializes in land, ranches and homes with acreage.

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