After all of the planning that we covered in part one of this series, it was great for us to actually get to the timber harvesting stage and see some work start to happen on our property. This was the first time we saw heavy equipment roll over our newly installed culverts, and it was an awesome feeling. We want to spend a few minutes to tell you a little more about how we went about having the timber harvested on our property.
Keep in mind that we only purchased a little over 19 acres, so we aren’t going through the process of hiring a registered forester to consult with us on our property. If you own a large timber tract I would highly recommend working with a registered consulting forester that could develop a complete forest management plan for your property. A large directory of forest service providers in Georgia can be found at the Georgia Forestry Commission website.
Interview Multiple Logging Companies
It is important for you as the landowner to understand that your timber is a product that you own just like any other. When you sell something that you own, you go through the process of finding the right buyer. That buyer is typically going to pay you the most money or give you the best terms for your product. It is no different when you decide to sell your timber. It can be very tempting to just call one logging company and then go with whatever they recommend, but you wouldn’t necessarily sell anything else that you own to the first person that shows up and makes an offer. You should always call several different logging companies and have them come out and take a look at your timber for you. They will each have different opinions about the best way to harvest your timber and the best price for it. Be sure that you get all information from these logging companies in writing. We will go over why this is important in a later step.
We were in a hurry to get moved onto our property so we did not have a lot of time to go through this bidding process. Instead, we relied on my experience with several local logging companies. Having been in the land sales business for over 15 years, I’ve developed a relationship with a group that I knew would move onto my smaller tract and do a good job. I did check the prices that they gave me with a few other recent quotes and found that they were very competitive. This all made me feel very comfortable with the logging company that I chose.
Go Over All Your Options
There are many different options available to you when you decide to cut the timber on your property. You need to be sure that you understand what each of these methods are so that you can go over the best ones to apply to your property.
On our property we chose to use a combination of all of the above methods. We clearcut the areas where we had marked out for the yards and driveways. We removed every fifth row in the process of thinning. We then selectively thinned the remaining trees and removed the poles.
Another thing that is important to understand is that there are going to be different timber products on your property. These can include:
The logging companies that you speak with should provide you with a price for each of these products and let you know about their availability on your property. You should be sure that you communicate your goals for your property with your logger. We discussed how we marked our property in part one of this series, we had to make sure that everyone understood what all of those markings meant.
Examine All Timber Contracts
Once you have met with all of your chosen logging companies and they have provided you with written estimates or contracts, be sure that you take the time to sit down and evaluate each one. Each contract should have terms that describe items such as:
- Name and address of both parties involved
- Location of the timber and subject property
- Description of the timber
- Pricing for each timber product
- Definitive start and end dates
- Specific operating instructions (access, area limitations, debris disposal, etc)
- Timber management practices to be used
- Insurance requirements
Having looked over each of the contracts in detail, you should be prepared to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Trust, but Verify
Once the harvest begins on your property, it is important to remember that the timber still belongs to you as the landowner until you have been paid in full for it. It is therefore in your best interest to keep an eye on the harvesting process if you are able. If you aren’t able to do this for yourself that would be another great reason to work with a registered forester. The purpose of watching over the harvest it to make sure that all of the terms of your contract with the logging company are being kept. It is important for everyone involved to know that the terms of that agreement are being followed to the letter. As the landowner you should be concerned with getting the most money you can for your timber products with as little negative impact to your property as possible.
I was able to visit our property every evening while the logging crew was on site. I was careful to drive my truck into areas where the workers were parked and I made my presence known to anyone operating equipment on site. I wasn’t there to be in the way or to boss the crew around. I was merely there to observe and bring any concerns that I had to the owner of the company with whom I had the contract. I was given the tickets for each load of timber for the day after they had been recorded in their ledger. I was able to use these tickets to verify the amount of money that I received after the harvest had been completed. I trusted the logging company to do what they contracted with me to do, but I verified each step of the process along the way.
A timber harvest is a messy business. It generates a lot of debris and under the right circumstances can cause a lot of damage to a property. Your logging company will be in a hurry to get to the next paying job after your timber has been cut. It is up to you or your registered forester to check and make sure that the cleanup is handled according to the terms of your contract.
If there was one thing that I would do differently with our timber harvest, I would have had the logging company pile all of the debris in one or two big piles. I had an excavator moving onto the property as soon as they were done and we could have burned the piles in a short time and been done with them. Instead I had them move the debris down toward one end of my property and I am still dealing with some of it today.
Our timber harvest was a great success for us overall. We were able to open up our property where we wanted to and we were still able to keep some timber as a privacy buffer against the road. We took the funds from having our timber cut and applied that toward the next project in the Preparing our Property series. We did all of our dirt work. Stay tuned for more on that.