I hope this answers a lot of questions land owners have about how to manage their woodlots, and perhaps generate a bit of income. It originally appeared in My Wisconsin Woods, the online newsletter of The Aldo Leopold Foundation.
Landowners, watching Covid-era lumber prices go through the roof, might assume that they would get more money for their standing trees, but there are many factors that go into what logger can afford to pay a land owner and still make his own living. While lumber prices are high, fuel prices and wages needed to attract timber workers are also up.
“High fuel prices have been tough on the logging community and saw mills too,” says Alex Anderson, WDNR Forest Products Specialist stationed in Rhinelander. “An 18-wheeler is getting five to eight miles per gallon, and diesel has been over $5 a gallon. The last two years it has been challenging to get replacement parts for equipment when it breaks, and down time costs loggers and mills a lot of money.”
Location, Location, Location
Many old rules for timber harvesting may not apply any more. What part of the state you live in can make a big difference in the interest you can attract from the lumber producers, but there are still ways to make a woodlot pay in the north and southwest parts of the state.
“North Central Wisconsin has a lot of pines. That is our state’s largest softwood wood basket – the greatest amount of merchantable pine is there,” says Anderson. “Southwestern Wisconsin is primarily an agriculture-driven economy so forestry is not as pervasive. Also, transportation is a big issue there — winding roads with lower speed limits. The longer it takes to get wood from logging site to a mill — the more challenging it is for the logger to make a profit.”
Brian Zweifel, WDNR Forester based in Dodgeville, agrees. “We encourage folks, if they have a small wood lot, that they consult with their neighbors to see if they are also interested in a forest improvement project. Having more volume in a single job is the way attract a logger. With larger projects to work on, it makes it more economically viable for the logger to take the job and give a decent rate for the stumpage that they are purchasing. The key to a good timber sale for a land owner is to get many loggers interested in it so you can get multiple bids and take the best bid.”
To read more of this story, check it out at My Wisconsin Woods.
Categories: Ask the Expert, Denise and Doug's published articles
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