CANFIELD, Ohio – There are different ways to manage and different ways to harvest a woodlot, and the Northeast Ohio Forestry Association took a look at Harold Lehman’s way on a recent twilight tour.
Lehman lives on the land his grandparents purchased in 1921 less than a mile from Canfield Center on Route 46. His 30 acres of woods are completely hidden from the suburban thoroughfare that Broad Street has become.
But Lehman loves his woods and, until now, has left them relatively undisturbed. He has hopes that Canfield will one day buy the woods for a city forest.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Service Forester James Elze, stationed at Salem, led members of the forestry association on a tour through the Lehman woodlot June 21.
Ten years ago, Lehman had Elze survey the woods to determine what he might be able to harvest. At that time he had almost 22 percent red maple, 17 percent sugar maple, 15 percent red oak, 8 percent cherry, 8 percent ash, 6 percent beech, 5 percent black oak, and lesser amounts of tulip, white oak, hickory, pin oak, black walnut, sassafras, scotch pine, elm, and basswood.
In all, Elze estimated a total of 265,000 board feet.
Lehman has decided to do a partial cut of 233 trees that will leave the woods virtually intact.
The cut will include almost all of the usable beech, 30 percent of the red oak, 20 percent of the maple, 25 percent of the cherry, poplar, and black oak, and half of the cucumber trees. It will also take the two usable pin oak, one white oak, three walnut, and one elm and one hickory tree.
The total harvest will be about 86,000 board feet of lumber, or 37 percent of the usable lumber estimated 10 years ago.
Lehman had already taken out some of the ash several years ago to sell at the largest profit margin he could find to a handle maker.
According to Elze, ash decline makes growing ash trees to marketable size questionable. Although Lehman’s woods have been relatively healthy for the ash trees, he decided to harvest the large trees he had rather than lose them.
Lehman did not choose to sell all of the trees that would have been usable for lumber. He had elected to keep many of them, including a big red oak that Elze estimated at 650 board feet.
Elze said the tree, which started branching fairly close to the ground, was not the most valuable lumber tree, but that if the forest were being managed strictly for lumber it would make sense to take it out to give nearby trees that might eventually become even more valuable, more room to grow.
Woods that are being closely managed, would not typically have as many small trees growing closely together, Elze said, but Lehman had been more interested in preserving the woods in its natural state than he was in preparing it for harvest.
The prize of the woods, which will not be harvested, is a 60-foot poplar with a 40-inch or greater diameter.
Elze estimated it would produce at least 1,200 board feet and, even at current low prices, would bring $350 to $400.
“If a poplar tree can grow that large and be so straight and tall, perhaps it’s time to take another look at poplar,” Elze said. “A tree like that makes up for the fact that poplar is not worth much.”
When the cut is finished, Lehman will have a new set of straight roads cut into his woods. The cut is taking an average of only eight trees per acre and will leave the woods, once a sugar maple camp but growing wild since the 1920s, intact and habitable by the same wildlife that is there now.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry has 21 state service foresters stationed across the state. They provide their services free of charge. You can contact the division at 614-265-6694.
(You can contact Jackie Cummins at 800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)