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Forestry Commission Urging Forest Owners Not to Rush Post-storm Timber Decisions

web posted February 20, 2014

STATE – Spring-like weather offers relief from -- and a sharp contrast to -- last week’s winter storm.  However, our state’s forestland owners may feel like their crisis has just begun. The Forestry Commission urges patience. Landowners with significant damage are struggling to decide whether to salvage or save standing timber.

Also, there is the matter of wood felled by the storm lying on still-wet ground. It can wait only so long before nature erodes what, if any, market value it holds.

But SCFC staff hopes that every forest owner and tree farmer will pause, assess their situation, and seek expert advice before making timber management decisions. While fallen timber will eventually degrade, there is time for landowners to discuss their particular situations with professional foresters. These experts can advise landowners on salvaging downed trees and the proper actions to take for damaged standing timber. Decisions made hastily could have financial ramifications for a landowner and his or her heirs for decades.

First, South Carolina landowners should document their damage (with photos or video) immediately for tax purposes and for possible reforestation assistance down the road.

Landowners should not feel compelled to clear their land, especially if unsolicited timber buyers are pressing for a quick sale.

SCFC foresters can provide assistance in evaluating timber.  Due to the scope of the winter storm, there may be a waiting list for landowner assistance from the Forestry Commission.  Our offices are ready to provide a list of private forestry consultants as well.  This information is also available on our website.

In addition to seeking expert advice on their timber’s condition, here are ways South Carolina’s forestland owners can protect their investment:

·         Know your timber's approximate value.

·         Know how much timber you are selling.

·         Get more than one bid.

·         Check buyers’ references.

·         Make sure you have a comprehensive written contract (samples available from the Forestry Commission). It should specify: how the contractor will pay and when; what products are to be harvested; the price for each product; to which sawmills or wood yards different products will be hauled.

·         Establish and permanently mark property lines.

·         If you don't live on the land, visit or ask someone to check it.

·         Spend some time monitoring logging operations on your property.

·         Keep records on your timber sales.

Forestry and its related businesses provide the livelihood of many people.  South Carolina’s forest resource is the backbone of our state’s largest manufacturing sector.  With 88% of our 13+ million acres of forestland privately owned (mostly by families who live on their land), forestry is more than a business in the Palmetto State, it is a way of life.

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