Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Forestry › Logging contract question
- February 21, 2015 at 6:43 pm #85014
I’ve found a horse logger here in Michigan who does sustainable harvesting and will be removing trees based on the philosophy that the worst trees should be taken out first to improve the stand. He has offered a contract that gives me, the landowner, 50 percent of the value of the logs. The rest goes to him to cover his overhead, etc. Is this a pretty standard arrangement? Is there a better way to go about this? BobFebruary 22, 2015 at 9:59 am #85015BaystatetomParticipant
If he is harvesting low grade and poor quality trees then he is paying you too much and will not make a living. Or he could be cutting all your veneer and leaving you a residual stand with reduce value and vigor. I would say 50% is a good deal for you as long as he is practicing good forestry.
As a forester I have seen very good loggers make very poor choices when it comes to tree selection. Just my two cents worth, plenty of loggers would tell you a forester is a waist of money.
~TomFebruary 22, 2015 at 8:34 pm #85018
Thanks for the reply, Tom. They’re not all low grade trees. There are a lot of good red oaks, some walnut and cherry. Unfortunately, it’s too late for the ash. The woodlot hasn’t been touched for more than 35 years. BobFebruary 24, 2015 at 9:09 pm #85031Brad JohnsonParticipant
I am a horse logger and also mark some of the lots I cut with my team. The devil is in the details. I concur with Tom about with his comments about wood quality. I start with $200/day net for my stumpage pricing. My contracts are built from there, assuming travel is not cost prohibitive. In other words I need to average $200/day over the course of the cut after I pay stumpage and trucking. You can call mills and get current pricing and then you can begin to assess whether or not 50% is a good idea for you and the logger. You should think about top wood as well. Will it go as firewood? If so, we pay $10/cord stumpage and then market it off the landing. You should be sure to clarify that with the logger as most hardwood cuts produce a great deal of top wood, the volume greater than that of the logs. The current job we are on is 1/3 logs and 2/3 firewood. One other thing to consider is the ground you are cutting on. How steep is it? How far from stump to landing? If you don’t know what the wood is worth on the stump, I would strongly recommend a forester to at least cruise and tell you what you have. From there, if you trust the logger you can make a cut plan together, but a forester who represents your interests might be a good idea. I frequently tell landowners that I will not mark their lot because I am not sure how to proceed – some lots are just more difficult than others and in that case you will need a good forester to get you started. Hope this helps – good luck!
-BradFebruary 28, 2015 at 7:09 am #85062Carl RussellModerator
So, I just closed out a small sale that I supervised this winter. I was working with an individual who uses a small skidder/crawler operation, but that is only because he is a motorhead. If he knew anything about horses, or had any interest in animals, he would be an excellent Horselogger.
I marked the stand, and administered the sale exactly as I would have for a horse logger. It was a northern hardwood lot that had reasonable past management, but never quite enough improvement, so the stand had some good logs, but a lot of low grade.
I paid the logger $200/MBf for cutting and skidding 40Mbf of saw timber. With the quality of this timber that turned out to be a little over 1/2 after trucking and forester supervision and administration, which I agree is generally low. However we gave him the Fuelwood at no charge. He harvested nearly 150 cords of wood, which some foresters insist is worth $10/cd, but even when I collect for wood I generally say $5. I’ll get into that in a moment, but for now let’s say an extra $1500/40Mbf=$37.50/MBf making his actual logging cost more like $237.50/Mbf. He did not truck the wood away, and will process it on the landing, basically adding some more value for him to capture. Now we are getting up nearer 2/3.
The reason I gave him the wood, was so that he would have incentive to cut and utilize as much of the low grade as possible. If I had made a higher arrangement on saw timber, and charged him for Fuelwood, the income for the landowner would have been the same, and he would have been struggling to make ends meet on every cord of wood he harvested. In the end, the proof is in the woodlot.
The extra income he was able to secure for himself allowed him to operate with the craftsmanship that I presented to the landowners as our goal. They now have good multipurpose trails, aesthetically pleasing post logging impact, and over the next 30 years the residual stand of uneven-aged hardwood saplings, poles, and small saw timber will produce astounding value.
The end result of the economics of this job is that he landowners will have a few thousand dollars of income, but the next several harvests will be much more profitable. If we had tried to make this job more currently competitive, driving up stumpage, and marking more valuable trees and less low grade, then subsequent harvests would have the same low value mix. Wih the strategy we used, the LO will gain far more into the future, and continued improvement will be much more affordable, and cost effective.
I am not saying that you will find too many foresters, or even loggers, who will think this model is appropriate, as most are caught in financial constraints that require they recommend more immediate financial gains, or lose the job to competitors, but we are out here. In my mind the primary product is the residual stand. There is no doubt that folks have financial demands, but prudent forest improvement will always return far more gain in the long run, and if we all cut our woods like that, then eventually every timber sale could be both profitable and improving.
There is a significant cultural habit for squeezing loggers between high stumpage prices and the sawlog marketplace. I know many loggers who wince at the idea of getting paid good money for logging if it means that they will be paying lower stumpage than their counterparts. It’s like someone is giving them something, and there is a pride thing, like Red Oak, or White Pine, or Sugar Maple, is worth so much, and if I don’t pay that, I’ll never live it down at the saw shop.
There is no doubt that these guys do the best job they can, but that is just it, they do the best job they can given the financial constraints they choose to operate under. As a consultant I see so many compromises that have nothing to do with the character or skill of the operator, but can easily be attributed to economics. I strive to educate and encourage landowners and loggers to face into those compromises, and to find ways around the economic barriers to arriving at a high quality residual of aesthetics, ecology, and improved timber resource.
I just share this with you, to try to encourage you as a woodland owner to strive for more than a healthy log check. The cost of good advice may seem unnecessary, but with an eye to the future, it can turn out to be more valuable. Just looking for advice on a site like this is a good indication that you understand that.
These photos are post harvest. You may be able to see some good small sawlogs, nice poles, and some good saplings in the residual. There is also a fairly high stocking, which has aesthetic and ecological value. He cut exactly to my marking, and was able to retrieve everything without smashing down the residual. Photos are hard to use to reflect the actual, but good logging can be exciting to be a party to.
Good luck, Carl
- This reply was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by Carl Russell.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.March 4, 2015 at 8:46 pm #85118
Thanks Carl. I’ll let you all know how things turn out. For some reason I never get emails when there is a response to my posts. Bob
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