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Call before you cut timber to avoid issues

Picture this: You purchase property that you and your spouse look forward to exploring and enjoying during your retirement. With that newly purchased property you know there is an opportunity to improve your property that also could be a source of income.

You contact a logging company. They come out and walk your property, talk with you, and later give you a contract. A contract that you sign.

Then the horror begins and you realize something isn’t right, but it’s too late.

Most landowners have heard the horror stories. Now like any industry, not all are bad. But too many of those horror stories about deceitful loggers scamming unsuspecting landowners are true and range anywhere from not being paid market value for the timber, not respecting your property, or to others who fail to implement best management and sustainable practices.

I recently visited a property in Portage County that experienced all the above horror stories. We have been working closely with the Division of Forestry and local foresters, and the district manager set up a tour so we could see for ourselves what a bad experience does to your property.

I don’t have much of a forestry background, but I grew up in the woods hunting and enjoying the adventures woodlands have to offer.

I didn’t even set foot into the woods and was already in shock.

First off, there wasn’t much left to even call a woodland. What trees were there were tiny and bending over to the ground that was covered in debris and invasive species. The earth I was walking on was soft and I felt like I was sinking. It was sawdust that was spread out to fill in the waist deep ruts that the machinery left behind.

Perhaps the worst was the giant pile of sawdust left behind that killed several other trees. The sawdust pile was at least 15 foot high and 30 foot long. Right beside that, not far from the road is pile after pile of slabs of wood trimmed off the good timber.

The mess that I was seeing is after two years of a landowner cleaning up after the loggers left. I can’t imagine how it looked before. The landowner will never see a healthy woodland again.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, has a Call Before You Cut program that can help you determine what your objectives are and how to keep your woods healthy. I encourage you to seek advice from service foresters and to utilize their services.

Your woods represent one of your most valuable resources. The decision to harvest, and how to do so, can either improve or set back the future value of your land, its potential for wildlife habitat, and as a source of enjoyment for you and your family.

There are many reasons you could or should harvest your timber, but it’s critical that you as a landowner take all the necessary precautions and steps to make sure you have a great experience. The cost that you may incur to have a professional assist you in the process is nothing compared to the cost to your land and to yourself if someone else’s horror story suddenly becomes yours.

Visit callb4ucut.com/ohio or call 877-424-8288.

Orahood is an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull Counties. She can be reached at aora hood@ ofbf.org

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