Things to consider before harvesting your timber


‘Tis the season … of timber harvesting! Have you opened up your mailbox and found a postcard expressing interest in your stand of timber?

If you are entertaining this concept of earning some “easy money” by harvesting your timber, there are some items you should know before signing your timber rights to your property away.

As a technician for the Mahoning County Soil and Water Conservation District (MSWCD), I am routinely called upon to inspect silviculture (logging) sites — most of the time it’s after the act of timber harvesting has occurred.

I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately, in this line of work, it is mostly the bad and ugly I am subjected to.

Good housekeeping

Here are some housekeeping tips when, and if, you as a landowner are considering a timber harvest:

  • Call before you cut. The Ohio Division of Forestry (ODF) offers a call-before-you-cut program that assists landowners in the correct steps of a timber harvest management. Call 1-877-424-8288.
  • Consult with a certified forester because these individuals can assist you tremendously. For the little percent they may charge, you will ensure yourself that you, as a landowner, are receiving fair market price for your timber. In addition, you can rest assured that only licensed and credible loggers will enter your property and perform their services to parameters set forth in your written contract. Foresters will help you develop a plan that best fits your goals for your property.
  • Have your loggers submit a voluntary Timber Harvest Notice of Intent to your local SWCD. Although this is a voluntary submission, it helps to ensure that proper best management practices (BMPs) are being followed on your given parcel of property during the harvest. ODF’s BMPs for silviculture are available through your local SWCD or the Ohio Division of Forestry (ODF).
  • Local government agencies are available for you to consult for assistance in your area should you ever have any questions. The Ohio Division of Forestry has regional consultants that are available to assist you with your timber resource questions and concerns. The Ohio Division of Natural Resources (ODNR) also offers the services of a regional private land biologists should you wish to change or improve the dynamics of your property for wildlife purposes. As always, your local SWCD’s are always available to assist you or put you in touch with someone who can.
  • Check with your local township(s) and/or zoning to see if there any local permits or regulations required prior to, during, or after your harvest.
  • Be aware of any potential sensitive areas on your property when conducting a harvest: wetlands, blue line streams, flood plains, US waters of the state, etc… If you are unsure contact your local SWCD.
  • Remember one does not have to perform a “commercial clear cut” in order to have a harvest performed to put a little money in their pockets. A landowner can perform a “select cut” that targets specific trees or areas that will ultimately help you reach the end goal for your stand of timber and promote growth for the desired species.
  • If you have a portable mill site on your property during your harvest, ensure that they have obtained the proper permits to operate these mills that may be required in some areas.

Disposing waste

In addition, be aware of how the waste from these operations will be disposed of or left for you the landowner to deal with. Unfortunately a lot of times in my position, I have witnessed landowners that are left with large stockpiles of sawdust that will take years to degrade along with slats left behind that they then are left with the task of cleaning up.

I urge you to read an article that was recently published in the Ohio Farm Bureau’s periodical section Dec. 2 by Mandy Orahood, titled Call before you cut timber to avoid issues. It depicts what can happen during an unfortunate and irresponsible timber harvest where the landowners were left cleaning up the mess for years to come.

It is important to remember that ultimately as the landowner, you are responsible for any violations that may occur on your property.

All timber harvesting is not bad; it can be a beneficial practice, that if performed properly, helps promote conservation practices and diversity on your property. In some counties, if you are enrolled in a Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) program, it is a mandatory management practice if you wish to stay enrolled in the program.

Management plan

Here in Mahoning County, the auditor’s office will require that a landowner, if enrolled in CAUV and claiming a timber status, must submit a timber harvest management plan by the year 2021 to their office or risk being removed from the program entirely.

In addition, we at MSWCD will perform spot checks of these enrolled CAUV woodlands throughout the county to ensure that the timber harvest management program’s BMP’s are being followed to ensure the integrity of the program.

There are other agencies that offer tax deductions and assistance for your woodland goals: The Ohio Division of Forestry (forest tax reduction), The Ohio Division of Natural Resources (private land biologists), and your local NRCS office (Forestry EQIP Programs). I urge you to reach out to your local agencies to see how they may assist you. If nothing else, you may get new fresh perspective point of view on your timber stand that you were unaware that may have even existed.

Informational workshop

A three-part informational forestry workshop will be conducted in Mahoning County at the Mahoning County Career Technical Center. The dates for this event are as follows:

  • March 24, Proper Timber Harvest Management, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • April 21, Invasive Species, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • May 12, Timber Stand Improvements — TSI, 6 to 8 p.m.

The three-part workshop is free and open to the public. You can R.S.V.P. by phone at 330-740-7995 or email at

The Portage SWCD will also be hosting a forestry workshop Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. in Ravenna at the Maplewood Career Center. Individuals interested in attending can call 330-235-6798 or 330-235-6806.

And as the late Bob Ross always said, “Let’s build some little happy trees.” Merry Christmas, everyone!


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