KWOA member’s experience with a timber harvest

Eric Shrader, KWOA member and woodland owner in western Kentucky, discussed his experience regarding a recent timber harvest at the KWOA board’s May 19, 2017 quarterly board meeting. The summary of his comments may be useful to other woodland owners contemplating a timber harvest.

Eric and Jo Lynn Shrader contracted with a consulting forester in 2014 to mark, sell and oversee a timber harvest on their 220+ acre woodlands. The consultant, a retired Kentucky Division of Forestry forester, developed a timber sale contract for them. The contract did not include clauses requested by the Shraders for addressing wet weather conditions and disposal of cigarette butts.

The Shraders met with the consulting forester for an initial walkthrough at their farm after the timber sale contract was signed and before the harvest began to identify control points, stream crossings, skid trails, the haul road, etc., as outlined in the BMP Handbook and master logger instructions/classes. The consultant declined to conduct a walkthrough with the loggers to discuss the preparation of the haul road. He also advised that the best management practices for harvesting timber (which are codified in the Kentucky Revised Statutes) are not meant to be literally followed in the field. Eric also requested a site visit by the KDF logging inspector prior to the start of the logging in April 2015. The inspector only reviewed the landing area and a small section of the timber to be harvested.

During 2015 the Kentucky Division of Water cited Eric and the timber purchaser for BMP #3 streamside management zones non-compliance and orders to fix. The timber purchaser fixed the damaged areas with assistance from Eric to avoid additional violation notices. DOW reports referenced BMP #4 sinkhole violations) water, silt, and mud running into sinkholes) but did not issue citations and provided instruction to divert water away from sinkholes.

The first logging crew was terminated in August 2015. A second crew was more responsive to Eric’s concerns although he found that it had not been informed of the specific contract requirements. He discussed the violations with the consulting forester prior to the loggers departing.

The loggers completed the timber harvest and left on May 9, 2016. The Shraders were pleased with the amount of timber harvested – almost 3/4 million board feet. However, they were still very concerned with the damage caused by what they considered a lack of adherence to BMPs and contract enforcement by those responsible. A KDF final Logging Inspection Report dated June 2, 2016 found no BMP violations. Eric submitted numerous requests to KDF that the report be corrected to reflect the BMP violations. No such correction has been forthcoming.

Mr. Shrader responded to questions and comments from board members. He noted several lessons learned from the timber harvest experience and expressed hope that KWOA would take an active role in educating and informing other woodland owners as to expectations, preparation and participation in timber harvests.