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Article #2, August 1997
By Bill Cook

            Too typically, forest owners agree to sell their timber to the first person that makes an offer.  Usually, these offers sound pretty good.  After all, five thousand bucks can be useful.  A check can often be written on the spot.  On the other hand, that same timber might be worth ten thousand.  Or fewer trees can be cut for the same five thousand dollars.  More importantly, how will the trees be harvested?  What kind of reputation does the logger have?  What considerations have been given to the future of the woods?  Tree regeneration?  Wildlife habitat?  Other environmental factors? 

The first offer is not always the best.  There are many cases of poor forest management caused by well-meaning loggers and landowners who simply arenít familiar with the consequences of timber harvest.  Unfortunately, there are also examples of unscrupulous deals where both the landowner and forest gets rooked.  Mistakes made in the forest can last for decades.

Most forest owners care about the future of their woodlot and want to see the kind of improvement possible through a management plan.  Doing nothing may not meet expectations.  Working with a forester will raise questions and provide answers.  You might go through a similar process with an investment counselor when planning for retirement or working with the stock market. 

Loggers know more about cutting and removing trees than most foresters, but foresters have knowledge about forest ecology and proper management techniques for your particular piece of the woods.  The logger can do an excellent job cutting trees, but the forester will know the short and long term impacts.  A forest owner needs to work with both to provide a good forest management plan that will meet their objectives and do right by the woodlot.

Even if you couldnít care less about the future of your woodlot, a forester can handle the bidding process and get the best price for your timber.  Some timber sales will generate large sums of money.  Others do not.  Try thinking of your timber as a car or house.  Would you sell them to the first bidder?  Or would you do some research to determine the best monetary value first?  Most of us have experience with cars and houses, but few have experience with forests and forestry.  A prudent landowner will arrange for the best timber price and make sure their forest is not compromised by inappropriate cutting practices.

Consulting foresters provide a wide-range of services and work in concert with public agencies. DNR and conservation district foresters can provide forester and logger lists; and offer some services.  Many forest industries have landowner assistance programs.  County Extension offices can provide information. Try the yellow pages.  For some practices, cost-share programs are available.  Consider joining the Michigan Forest Association, the Tree Farm program, or attending workshops and field days.  I can be reached at 906-786-1575, if you want to know more.

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Bill Cook is an MSU Extension forester providing educational programming for the entire Upper Peninsula. His office is located at the MSU Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center near Escanaba. The Center is the headquarters for three MSU Forestry properties in the U.P., with a combined area of about 8,000 acres. He can be reached at cookwi@msu.edu or 906-786-1575.

Prepared by Bill Cook, Forester/Biologist, Michigan State University Extension, 6005 J Road, Escanaba, MI  49829
906-786-1575 (voice),  906-786-9370 (fax),  e-mail:  cookwi@msu.edu

Use / reprinting of these articles is encouraged. Please notify Bill Cook.
By-line should read "Bill Cook, MSU Extension" Please use the article trailer whenever possible.

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