Selling Timber as a Landowner
  •  Knowing your Property Lines

It is good to know where the property lines are before cutting any trees down or changing anything with your property. If you don’t, you might cut a tree in your neighbor’s property, then there could be legal issues. If this does happen look up timber trespass law to find out more information.

You can find your property lines on your deed. If you do not have your deed, then you will have to go to your local city assessor’s office or county record’s office. There are places you can check online but some are still old school and only have the information on paper at their office; it would be best to just go to the local city assessor’s office or county record’s office and get a copy of the deed.

If you hired a forester, they should know how to read your property line information on your deed but for it to be legally acceptable they have to have a certification in surveying. If you are doing this by yourself, you should hire a professional surveyor to help you map out your property lines.


Photo by: Howard F. Schwartz ,Colorado State University


Why is it better than not managing? Do you want to continue to cut wood over the years or clear cut and never plan on selling again? It really depends on what the owner wants and what his future plans will be. When managing a forest, you usually get better growth from trees and the forest looks a lot better than not managing after a cut. Managing is good for if you plan on cutting again in the future and making more money. Here are a couple different methods of managing and what they do.

Clear cut – removing all trees in a given area.

Even age method – regenerating a stand that is even age.

Uneven age method – generating a stand that has two or more age classes.

Seed tree cut - a harvesting method in which a few scattered trees are left in the area to provide seed for a new forest stand.

Shelter wood cut - removing trees on the harvest area in a series of two or more cuttings so new seedlings can grow from the seed of older trees.

Group selection cut – removes small groups of trees so that in the future it will develop into a uneven-age forest

Diameter cut – harvesting trees at a specific diameter. Example: Any tree with a 16 DBH and up will be cut, so that means nothing under 16 DBH will be cut.

Salvage cut - Harvesting of dead or damaged trees or of trees in danger of being killed by insects, disease, flooding, or other factors.

Regeneration cut - a strategy in which old trees are removed in order to rehabilitation of a new stand of seedlings.

Thinning - a tree removal that reduces tree density and competition between trees in a stand such as crown, free, low, mechanical, and selection.

Crown thinning/ Thinning from above – removal of big trees to reduce crowding in the dominant crown class.

Free thinning – removal of selected trees (doesn’t matter on what crown class it is in) to help the desired trees you want to grow better.

Low thinning/ Thinning from below – removal of the smaller trees to help the upper crown class

Mechanical thinning - removal of trees by row, strips, or spacing.

Selection thinning - removal of larger trees to improve stand.

You can find other forestry terms at: AHC WVU Glossary

Not managing

It is simple, do nothing and let nature take its course. Best for if not a lot of cutting has been done, the property has no value to you, or you don’t plan on doing anything with the property later on in life.

Why are you harvesting?

That all depends on why you are harvesting in the first place. The big reason is money, what else needs to be said? That does depend on how much you are cutting, you could make a lot of money with something you didn’t even know you could make money on. Recreation is another big one like hunters harvest so the environment is better for the game they hunt. This could also be done because you want to have a teaching opportunity.

What are your end goals?

Your end goal could be the same reason that you are harvesting like making money or recreation. They could also be different; clearing land and wanting to build a house there. Wanting to improve the habitat for the wild animals or harvesting the wood and putting your own farm there. As you can see the list could go on, but before you harvest your land have an end goal.

Private Consulting Foresters- offer a responsive service for a fee. They work to get the best value for your timber and, they can make your forest healthier and a lot more valuable. The total paid for their service is outweighed for all the work they did and how much they increased your revenue for your timber sale.

Public Consulting Foresters – They work for the state or the federal departments. They can answer questions about managing your wood and develop your forest management plan. Sometimes landowners don’t get help right away.

If you choose public or private forester, we would consider landowners to get in contact with them so they can help you throughout the process of selling your timber. They will get the most money out of your timber lot. Here are a couple of different things they can provide for you:

  • Expand present and future value by identifying trees and which to harvest or to remain in the forest.
  • Prepare a proper inventory of what’s going to be offered for sale, including species, quantity of trees, volume, and quality.
  • Market the timber effectively to get the most value.
  • Oversee harvest activities to make sure you are satisfied.
  • Help with income tax that is relevant to the timber sales.

A landowner working without a consulting forester can be taken advantage of.  Time after time landowners have learned that getting a professional forester was a great idea for increasing profit and making the processes of managing and selling lumber easier. If you decide not to have a professional forester, then you should try to a lot of offers for your timber and make sure that the hired harvesting company signs contracts, knows your property boundary, follows all the laws, knows which trees you want harvested, and understands what you want your land to look like after the timber is harvested. Also make sure you obtain a written timber sale contract

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