Forestry forum provides landowners suggestions, safety lessons

Mary Ann Van Osdell  |  3/18/2009 9:30:28 PM

News Release Distributed 03/18/09

SHREVEPORT, La. – The 25th annual Ark-La-Tex Forestry Forum held here March 12 offered suggestions for forest owners to make progress in hard economic times and included a safety lesson for when they are in the woods.

The forum was sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana Forestry Association, Northwest Louisiana Extension Forestry Advisory Committee and the Ark-La-Tex Ag Council.

Bill Hubbard, a southern regional extension forester from Georgia, discussed economic trends and the forestry market. He said the bright side includes increasing value from such markets as carbon credits, bioproducts and harvest residues along with possible credits for water rights, water production or clean water.

“Forestry has sustained tough times in the past,” Hubbard said. “Regardless of the depressed timber market, sound, sustainable management is critical.”

Hubbard said three areas of successful timber management in rough times include adequate access, sufficient volumes and high-quality trees.

He said the economy will improve, but landowners need to keep their forest stands in ready condition. “Manage that stand in a healthy, sustainable fashion,” Hubbard said.

Paul Spillers, a tax attorney, reviewed basic mineral laws for forest landowners.

“Look at your land like a diamond,” he said. “If you explore and polish up your land like a diamond, it will shine.”

Before signing a mineral lease, get professional advice, Spillers said, explaining that minerals include oil and gas, coal, gravel, soil, water, iron ore and clay.

Spillers told the landowners to ask for a vertical Pugh clause, which means a lease is continued beyond the primary term only to the deepest point drilled during the primary term. All depths below are free to be leased again by the landowner after the primary term ends.

He said landowners should have input in location of pipelines and roads, surface damage reimbursement and prohibiting permanent structures.

Buck Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, said he will be working closely with the LSU AgCenter to make sure the industry is represented in the legislature.

Steve Muslow, LFA president from Shreveport, said “I pledge that LFA will not sit by and do nothing while the timber industry suffers.”

Completing the program was Dr. Don Reed, LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist, who cautioned landowners about forest safety.

He told the 180 in attendance that the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries goes on 12 to 15 search-and-rescue calls a year.

Hypothermia is the cause of 85 percent of all wilderness deaths, Reed said. The opposite extreme, he said, is heat exhaustion, in which spasms and cramps are caused by salt loss.

Reed said 45 species of snakes are native to Louisiana; seven are venomous. Poisonous snakes generally have vertical elliptical pupils and a triangular-shaped head.

People can prevent snake bites by wearing protective chaps and being careful where they walk and place their hands, Reed said. The odds of being bitten by a poisonous snake are 1 in 10,000; odds of death after being bitten are 1 in 600 with medical attention – but only 1 in 40 odds without, he added.

Reed mentioned other outdoor safety concerns and prevention tips, including wearing safety harnesses in tree stands, wearing a helmet, driving slowly, not taking passengers on four-wheelers and having knowledge of poisonous plants.

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Mary Ann Van Osdell 

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