What Do I Do Now?

A few weeks ago, a gentleman emailed me because he had read an article I wrote a couple of years ago.  This gentlemen planted a 20 acre tract not quite 20 years ago.  He now wants to thin or final harvest the tract and is having trouble finding someone to do so because of the small size.

Below is a summary of my opinion and comments I provided him that are based on our family’s experiences as a timber landowner.  Hopefully they may be useful to others in similar situations.

    • Finding loggers for smaller tracts is not unusual as the logging force has contracted since 2008.
    • Expenses for a logger in time,  insurance, liability issues, permits, etc. make it almost impossible for tracts of 20 acres or less to be worked economically.
    • We have the same situation with individual stands that are small but within larger tracts.  We will have to wait past economic maturity to harvest those smaller stands when the larger stand is ready to be harvested.
    • When planted 20 years or so ago, there were many more small loggers that could handle smaller tracts.  My ancestors harvested many of these sized tracts with chain saws and a small dozer.
    • Now loggers use large equipment that may have trouble maneuvering efficiently in smaller tracts.John Deere skidder-feller
    • I suggested he might consider hiring a private, local forestry consultant to help manage the tract, help decide if harvesting is needed and how soon, and hopefully tie the tract to a timber sale with a larger, nearby tract.
    • I also suggested he contact his Cooperative Extension Service forestry agent or state forestry commission forester for information about local loggers, local consultants, and other possible options.
    • As a last resort, I suggested he might consider  selling the tract to a neighbor as the best way to realize the expected economic benefit.

Forestry management is inherently a long term proposition.  Be sure to try to anticipate what the situation will be in the future as you make your management decisions today.  We attend educational seminars and meetings on forestry management as one way to gain useful information to help us make those decisions.

This situation is another reason that family meetings, discussion of all options with the family, and detailed records can help the next generation understand why and how things were done in the past as they face situations a long time in the future.  The challenge of dealing with decisions today that may not be of benefit for many years is one reason we enjoy working with timberland.

Photos courtesy of John Deere Forestry Equipment.
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WOW! Our ancestors never would have dreamed …

WOW! Our ancestors never would have dreamed that property they owned would be involved in a Tree Farm of the Year award.

Thanks to a nomination by Josh Smith, Columbia County Forester with theTree Farmer of Year Award plaque picture Arkansas Forestry Commission, we received the 2013 Arkansas Tree Farmer of the Year award on October 3, 2013 at the Arkansas Forestry Association annual meeting in Little Rock.  Jennifer Johnson with AFA presented the beautiful plaque to us.  We are really appreciative of gift certificates from STIHL, Inc. and Construction Safety Products and the many congratulations offered from AFA members.  We also appreciate the Arkansas Forestry Commission and Joe Fox, State Forester, for allowing employees like Josh to support the Tree Farm program.

We were most thankful and honored that Emilie, Weldon, Elisabeth, William, Tree Farmer of Year Award family pictureand Abigail were all able to join us at the Awards Breakfast where the presentation was made.  They all made significant contributions that helped us win this award.

Also thanks to the AFA staff and especially Anna Swaim and Jennifer Johnson for their efforts to put the slide show together that was used as an introduction to the award presentation.  The slide show can be viewed here.

Abigail's treeMy previous post was on my ancestors and some of their accomplishments in forestry.  We now have an accomplishment our descendants can discuss in the future.  The day after the Award Breakfast, Abigail was in the woods checking on “her” tree so we hope the legacy continues.  She will never know her great-great grandfather who purchased this land or her great-grandfather who planted this tree, but our plans are for her to know them through this tree and the others we manage.  WOW with a picture like this, it makes what we do all worthwhile!

Photos and video courtesy of AFA and NMS.
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Ties through land to ancestors

One of the goals of this blog is to discuss intergenerational issues with transfer of assets, especially land and timber.  It really means a lot to us when we can establish ties between our current experiences and land holdings to those of our ancestors.

As one example, we have one tract that has been in the family for about 94 years.  Another is almost 80 years “old” in the family.  And the “oldest” one has been supporting our family and our ancestors for over 110 years.  It was enrolled in the Centennial Tree Farm program through the Louisiana Forest Association as soon as it reached the 100 year mark and proudly displays the Centennial Tree Farm sign.

Recently, while working on some genealogical research, we stumbled across a copy of The Lumber Trade Journal from August 1, 1916 and a copy of the Lumber World Review from February 25, 1919.  There were three mentions in those two issues of my great-grandfather, E. S. Duck, and a compiled copy of all three can be viewed here.  For those of you that do not know the geography of the areas mentioned, Forest Hill and Lecompte are small towns in Rapides Parish, Louisiana south of Alexandria.  Sartori is a long-lost community located north of Turkey Creek, Louisiana and was just to the west of the current I-49 where the hill country turns into the river bottom.  Tupelo is also a long-lost community located between Beaver Creek and Marshall Creek and a little north and west of Sartori.

Pictures of my great-grandfather, his logging operations, and my great-grandmother Beulah Virginia (for whom I am named) can be viewed by clicking here.

Another interesting tie we have been able to establish is that a tract of land E. S. Duck purchased in the general area mentioned above was purchased from a gentlemen who’s family sold Allen’s family a tract in Arkansas about 75 years later.

It is nice to be able to find this information on my great-grandparents, and know it helps me relate to some of the struggles and issues that they had in the lumber and timber business over 100 years ago.  While I did not know my great-grandfather or great-grandmother, I feel I have continued in some small fashion the legacy that they began.  We continue to work hard to have that legacy be maintained through our grand children.

Photos courtesy of NMS.
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First cut importance

Because my maternal ancestors were involved in the lumber business for many generations, I was drawn to a post on a blog sponsored by Penn State University’s Extension Service that discussed where lumber comes from.

Most of the readers of our family’s blog would likely answer “from a tree or log” which would be correct but not exactly what the Penn State blog discussed.  While most of my sawyer ancestors died before I had an opportunity to learn from them, I have been told of their dedication to making the correct, first cut in a log.  Below is a picture from the Penn State blog in which different cuts are illustrated to show how important the location of the first cut really is.  It really helped me understand what my ancestors knew.  I added the numbers so readers can choose where they think the first cut was made when this log was sawn.log cuts w numbers

Which one is it?  Write it down and don’t change your answer once you read the blog here.  Also, there is as link on that post to a video describing the quartersawing process that is very informative and interesting.

Careful processing of timber into appropriate lumber products is one way to increase the value timber landowners receive and is a means to use our natural resources wisely.  My ancestors understood the importance of the first cut, and hopefully this post has increased your awareness as well.

Photo courtesy of gowood.blogspot.com.
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Teaching Teachers About Forestry … Another Success (story #2)

The 2013 Arkansas Forestry Association Education Foundation’s TeacherAFA logo Conservation Tour was held June 17-21 in Monticello, Arkansas.  One of the teachers we sponsored is an agriculture teacher in south Arkansas.  As such, we feel her experiences will be especially useful to her and her students.  I want to share with you a couple of comments she included in her thank you note.

    • Thank you.  What a great way to give back to so many.
    • It was such a valuable opportunity to learn more about so many facets of the forestry industry that I will be able to share and better educate my students.

If you are interested, there are about 350 great pictures that one of the participants took available here.  Thanks to Ms. Brown for all the effort to take the pictures.

I want to especially thank Rob Beadel of the Arkansas Forestry Association Education Foundation for everything he and the AFA staff does to plan and coordinate this event.  And thanks also to all the sponsors that provided land, equipment, and facilities for the teachers to tour, see, and touch.

If you have the opportunity to sponsor a teacher for a similar professional development workshop in your state, please consider doing so. If you are not aware of such a program, contact your state’s forestry association and ask if something similar is available.  These educational programs are a great way for your family to help train those that educate our children about forestry, water, wildlife, and the environment.

Both the Arkansas and Louisiana 2013 workshops were recently featured on the American Forest Foundation blog and can be viewed by clicking here.

If you would like more information on why our family is interested in supporting teacher participation in these programs, please contact me at elisabeth@landownerlegacy.com.

If you want specific information about the program in Arkansas, you can contact:

Rob Beadel, Arkansas Forestry Association
501-374-2441; rbeadel@arkforests.org

logo courtesy of arkforests.org
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