Where Do I Start?

Deciding to harvest your timber can often be intimidating and confusing. As a forest landowner you are responsible for the activities that take place on your property. Fortunately, assistance is available to help you manage your forestland. Just contact your local North Carolina Forest Service (N.C. Forest Service) office; the phone numbers are listed in this brochure.

Professional Forestry Assistance

Forestland owners can benefit greatly by using professional forestry assistance. Assistance is available from N.C. Forest Service personnel, private consulting foresters, and foresters employed in the forest-products industry. Selecting a forester to assist you with your timber harvest is an important decision that should be made carefully. In North Carolina, foresters are required to be professionally registered; contact the N.C. Forest Service for a list of Consulting Foresters.

When selecting a private forester, choose a forester who can perpetuate the values of your forest and meet your personal objectives. A wise selection has financial, personal and aesthetic rewards. Like any other group of professionals, foresters have a wide variety of skills, education and experience. As you talk with various foresters, match the forester's experience and expertise with the goals and objectives you have in mind for your forestland. Talk to them and get an understanding of their character, reliability, sense of stewardship, and willingness to understand and meet your goals. Request and follow up on references from the foresters you talk with before signing any contract or agreement. The information they provide should include names and phone numbers of other landowners they have assisted.

Ownership & Boundary Issues

Before any planning or harvesting can occur, it is very important to determine the boundary lines of the property and timber sale area(s). If more than one landowner is involved, all must agree to the sale arrangements. Once the boundaries are determined, they should be clearly marked and maintained. Before beginning a timber sale, be certain that all parties are aware of the boundaries.

Get a Management Plan

Developing a forest management plan before you cut provides you a means of identifying what can be done to enhance and protect the values and aspects of your forestland property. It may also reduce your property taxes if you are following the plan and meet the minimum requirements specified by North Carolina tax code. A professionally prepared plan should give a description of the property, a list of goals and objectives, and a schedule of activities to accomplish your goals. There are a wide variety of tax responsibilities that can result from the sale of timber or other forest products from your property. You should become informed on current tax laws in addition to environmental laws. Problems can be avoided by contacting your forester and a certified public accountant (CPA) prior to a timber sale. Property taxes and income taxes all can be affected by the sale of forest products.

Pre-harvest Planning

Water quality and site productivity can be protected during a timber harvest by following these four common sense principles:

Have a Contract

All timber sales should be entered into with a written contract. This contract should list in detail the responsibilities of the seller and the buyer. Some examples of what contracts should include are: legal description of the property, description of the timber and/or area of timber being sold, method of payment, contract length, adherence to all laws and regulations, and special considerations or clauses.

Know the Law

Forestry operations receive exemption from the permitting requirements of the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act (SPCA) only if they are in compliance with the Forest Practices Guidelines Related to Water Quality (FPGs). The FPGs are nine performance standards that must be met to protect water quality by minimizing soil erosion and sedimentation to streams and other water bodies.

The enactment of buffer protection rules in several North Carolina river basins has required landowners, loggers, timber buyers and others to take extra precautions to ensure forest harvest compliance is achieved. In addition, the applicability of local tree-buffer protection rules and/or tree ordinances should be assessed prior to conducting timber harvests or other forestry activities.

Reforestation

You should begin planning for reforestation before you harvest your timber. Your forester may offer reforestation planning with the timber sale. Ask about reforestation planning options or contact your local N.C. Forest Service office for assistance. When discussing reforestation, consider what you would like to see on your forestland. Ask yourself, “Am I interested in wildlife, timber production, aesthetics, pine straw production, recreation, and/or a combination of these benefits? How much can I afford to invest?” By answering these questions you can provide your forester with objectives for the reforestation plan. Costs for reforestation varies depending on the condition of the land after the timber harvest, the terrain, geographical location, and/or size of the tract. State and federal cost share programs have been created to provide you an incentive to reforest. These programs may offset your reforestation costs from 40 to 60 percent. Information about cost share programs is available at your local N.C. Forest Service office.

Now that you have an objective, a reforestation plan, and cost share assistance, you should ask, “Who is going to do the site preparation? Where am I going to buy the seedlings? Who is going to plant the seedlings?” Your forester has access to lists of contractors that do site preparation or tree planting in your area. Seedlings can be purchased from the N.C. Forest Service Nursery by calling 1-888-NCTREES. For more information on reforestation, consult with your forester or your local N.C. Forest Service office.

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