John Barry Crain, Chaney, John A. | 4/26/2005 8:28:27 PM
ALEXANDRIA – Central Louisiana landowners heard that managing forest resources is a good investment during a gathering here late last month.
The landowners and industry leaders attended an Oct. 23 LSU AgCenter forestry workshop to learn about the latest timber marketing concepts, tax issues, estate planning, timber production techniques and environmental issues.
"Managing forest resources is a good investment," said LSU AgCenter forester Barry Crain. "And when properly managed, the land will return income similar to other long-term financial investments."
Many small forest landowners harvest their trees only once or, at most, a few times during a lifetime, so it is hard for them to remember or keep up with the latest marketing techniques and obtain a fair market price for their timber.
"This workshop was planned to help the small landowner maximize his or her profit and reduce environmental impact to the land," said Crain.
In one method that might help area landowners, C.A. "Buck" Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, told the group of 57 participants additional investment opportunities will be available soon. Vandersteen said the Roy O. Martin Lumber Co. is building an orientated strand board mill near Oakdale where they plan to manufacture 600 million square feet of orientated strand board per year.
"Forest product companies will locate where there is an excitement in growing trees," Vandersteen said, adding, "And they will buy your trees."
The new plant locating in the area will provide more incentives for small landowners to plant and intensively manage additional resources, he said.
The experts said it also is important for non-industrial landowners to begin to manage their timber resources for more profit by developing accurate timber inventories, tree counts, volumes of different tree species, quality of timber, timber value and timber marketing resources.
To illustrate the historical viability of forests as an investment, LSU AgCenter forest economist Dr. Mike Dunn discussed long-term real increases in softwood and hardwood sawtimber prices in Louisiana.
"Planning is the key," said Dunn. "The most important decisions are made at planting, so landowners should get professional help, prepare the site and plant good trees."
The LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, forestry consultants and timber companies will help landowners with their forestry needs, said Donald Baker, a consulting forester.
"Forest landowners should take advantage of the services available to them to improve profit margins by using forest incentive programs," said Baker.
Landowners and consultants need to work together to develop a written management plan that will include timber production and environmental considerations, Baker said. They also should implement strategies to include best management practices and reduce soil erosion, he said.
In addition, Baker said many landowners want to include multiple uses in the plans for their property and still manage for timber production, wildlife diversity and other recreational opportunities.
"When selling timber, be sure to mark trees, develop an inventory and have a good understanding of what is being sold," said Baker. "Then make sure you are getting top dollar for the trees being cut."
Bob Johnson, a private landowner from Glenmora, said it pays to have a good forestry consultant to market your timber. And he explained that a good consultant can help find good markets for the timber, mark trees for cutting, inventory forest products, professionally supervise harvest operations, control burn, apply herbicides and perform many other tasks related to growing trees.
For example, Johnson pointed out that using fire as a cultural practice to control the litter from trees in the forest is a problem for small landowners because of the liability involved. On the other hand, he said that, for a fee, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and consultants can assist property owners with prescribed burning on their forestland.
Using such professional services can greatly reduce the risk associated with fire and smoke – and can help ensure that the fire is used correctly to help enhance the land, Johnson said.
Another topic that generated numerous questions at the workshop was the legal and tax session conducted by Paul Spillers, a forest landowner and lawyer. The range of issues covered included settling estates, problems in clearing titles, dividing property ownership, writing a will, writing a timber contract, settling boundary disputes and a variety of tax issues.
The workshop was sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Forestry Association and the Mississippi Extension Service through a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
Two similar meetings were held in northwestern Louisiana and southeastern Louisiana earlier in the year. The final workshop in the series was held last month in Grambling.
For more information on issues related to agriculture, forestry and natural resources – or a variety of other topics ranging from nutrition to youth development – visit www.lsuagcenter.com.
Barry Crain at (318) 767-3968 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Dunn at (225) 578-0344 or email@example.com
C. A. "Buck" Vandersteen, (318) 443-2558 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or email@example.com