How the Traditional Forestry System Fails a Forest Owner
Several weeks ago in Timbergreetings! I showed you photos of a destructive harvest in progress not far from here, with the message "Why we need to keep working". A half dozen forest owners from across the country wrote back and personally affirmed the message, while a local forester wrote, "I take exception to your description of this being traditional forestry. Any forester knows what you described is not forestry at all. We need to work together as professionals to stop this from happening by explaining that this is not forestry.
And that it will have a long term negative impact on our environment."
Another week, another forest destroyed... The following is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the "presumed innocent" until proven ....
Last week I was hired by a forest owner. He wrote, "Heard you were in the logging business and regret not working with you - as I always thought I would - because I heard you go to bat for the landowner and represent them well."
The owner had just completed a timber harvest on his land in central WI. He wasn't sure that things went well, the forest was left in kind of a mess.... He asked for my opinion. This is what I discovered when we met to walk his property.....
The harvest work had been completed in December, all equipment was removed, but several piles of logs were still present on two separate landings.
Forest owner objectives:
The forest owner had owned the land for 30 years and did not need money from a harvest. He had been convinced by several professional foresters that this harvest was needed for the "good of his woods". The owner also had the DNR's brochure written by Jerry Lapidakis and Jeff Martin on how a wise forest owner should market their timber (the right way). He did things according to the book, and trusted that the professional foresters would do a good job for him and his forest. The forest owner's repeated instructions to his consulting forester were to minimize the mess and work during frozen ground.
Several major problems were observed from the forest owner's point of view:
The forest owner had hired "Ol Boys" consulting foresters to sell his timber. They were already friends - as the consulting forester had recently retired from his job as the Wisconsin DNR County forester (25 years or so) - and went into business as a "consulting forester".
Agreement between owner and the consulting forester:
The "Ol Boys" signed an agreement with the landowner that promised that "sound forestry" practices would be accomplished. The agreement states that the forester would enforce the contract requirements and supervise the logging operation. The forester states that he will represent the forest owner's interests as the owner's agent. The forester personally recommended that the high bid be accepted, citing the company's reputation and record. (three companies bid on the timber)
The Ol Boys commission was 10% of the sale price.
The Management Plan:
A new Managed Forest Law forest management plan had been written by a DNR forester, (a fire ranger) C.J. 'Smokey' Bear in August, 2001.
Stand One - 40 acres "This stand is one of the better quality oak stands found in the County. The stand consists of good quality large oak sawtimber at good density and population. Also included within the stand is good small oak sawtimber at medium density. The stand is showing good
productivity and growth. The soil of the stand is loamy sand of good nutrient content.