Be smart when selling your timber


This is the story of the Smith family who owns 75 acres; 40 acres of which is wooded. They received an introduction letter from a logging company that offers to purchase their timber for a lump sum amount.

The company communicates that they are conducting other timber harvest operations in the area and their equipment is readily available for a short period of time. The Smith’s were overjoyed to learn that their trees were “worth” the amount offered.

They immediately accepted the offer, recognizing that this windfall will help to achieve their dream of adding a new addition to their home.

Not a fairy tale

The Smiths did receive their payment; the company did conduct the timber harvest; and all is well! Well, that is until the snows melted and the spring rains came.

And with that came the sediment entering into natural drainage areas as a result of the logging operation. It appeared that there were no management practices installed by the logging company to minimize the loss of sediment from the logging activity.

Not a happy ending

What the Smiths found out, after the fact, was that the application of best management practices to control pollution on logging activities is specified by Section 319 of the Federal Water Quality Act and by the Ohio Agricultural and Silvicultural Pollution Abatement Law.

The family also became aware that failure to plan for and correctly implement silvicultural best management practices during forest operations will result in unacceptable pollution and can result in regulatory action(s) initiated against the landowner and operator in order to reduce the amount of pollutants.

(This story is true but the name has been changed to protect the family).

Forest management plan

Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Ohio are the local responders for timber harvest questions, site reviews and assistance. In a recent Dirt on Conservation article, Jason Reynolds, with the Columbiana SWCD, shared the importance of a forest management plan.

Such a plan will provide, among other important details, a description of tree species, age of the trees, and recommend management activities for that stand. As Jason stated, your plan will most likely include a timber harvest sale in the near future.

Be informed

Without accurate information, you may not be receiving the true value of your trees, you may be impacting the future of your forest’s productivity, and your operation may be in violation. Be an informed consumer.

Did you know that rather than taking the first offer for the purchase of your trees, you may contract to market your trees for competitive bids?

You can also negotiate a better contract to reduce the impact of the harvest, limit the size and species of trees being harvested, determine the time of the harvest, and contract for improved wildlife habitat and aesthetics.

Resource assistance available

There are multiple sources available to assist landowners with their timber harvest questions and those who can provide the tools to better inform the woodlot owner seeking to protect their timber investment.

Your local soil and water conservation district could be your first step in acquiring assistance.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry; the Ohio Society of American Foresters; Ohio State University Extension; and the Ohio Forestry Association are all resources that can be tapped by woodlot owners.

The Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District has compiled a Woodlot Owners Packet, of comprehensive information generated from a variety of sources that provide fact sheets on Written Timber Sale Contracts/Getting the Most from Your Timber Sale, Measuring Standing Trees, Tax Treatment for Timber Sales and much more.

The packet also includes a current listing of the Ohio Master Loggers and of Certified Consulting Foresters and Technicians. You may contact the JSWCD for a “Packet” by calling the office at 740-264-9790 or by emailing

Do not make a hasty decision

Take the time to become informed. Stumpage prices fluctuate frequently, but your timber is not going to lose its value overnight. Your timber is a financial investment and should be protected like any other investment.

Before you answer the knock at your door, be prepared with a plan.


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Irene Moore is the district administrator for the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District. She grew up in Jefferson County and has worked for the district for 23 years. She can be reached at



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