Masses of spindly young trees crowd the forest floor and become tinder for destructive forest fires. Instead of focusing on the value of the trees to loggers, the Nature Conservancy’s Future Forests project would make it more viable to remove the young trees that make Arizona forests so dangerous. But thus far the project’s loggers, truckers and sawmills have not met tree removal targets.
Eric Shrader, KWOA member and woodland owner in western Kentucky, discussed his experience regarding a recent timber harvest at the KWOA board’s May 17, 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.
Woodland property assessment
The on-going appeal regarding property assessment by Jim Corum, KWOA past president, is based on a lack of constitutional appropriateness regarding the disparity in application of property assessment criteria. The current assessment has economic implications for landowners regarding forestland as an investment given the carrying cost of the tax burden. For example, as a percentage of net income, woodland owners pay 15.6 percent of net income compared to 3 percent for corn farmers.
KWOA has conducted lengthy discussions covering many aspects of the issue including what criteria distinguish personal use from agricultural use for timber properties and the potential impact on counties’ tax base, particularly in light of the significant decrease in tax revenues from mined minerals.
Rough estimates indicate that Kentucky timber resources are only about 25 percent as productive as they could be due to lack of management. The KWOA board voted to form a committee to define what constitutes sustainable management practices. The committee will attempt to compare differences in tax rates between properties that implement sustainable management plans and those that don’t.
Recent high-profile property tax assessments for lots slated for future development in Fayette County resulted in new criteria for agriculture exemptions. There is no similar criteria for tree farms. KWOA is developing a related position paper focused on retaining property tax exemptions for all 10+acre woodlands. The position paper supports greater rewards for woodlands with active management plans. The first effort will be to develop and agree on the criteria that will differentiate a “working forest” (actively farmed) from a personal use or “volunteer” forest.
U.S. Congressional Working Forest Caucus
U.S. House and Senate bipartisan caucuses were formed to pursue common legislative objectives and policies relating to responsible, active management of privately owned forests. No Kentucky congressional legislators are members of these caucuses.
KWOA sent letters with the UK Kentucky Forestry Economic Contribution Report 2016 to the state’s U.S. senators and representatives. Sample letters were sent to KWOA members to encourage them to contact their congressional legislators about joining a caucus.
Member presentation on timber harvest
Eric Shrader, woodland owner and KWOA member, made a presentation to the board regarding his experience with a 2015 timber harvest. He shared the challenges, lessons learned, and the result of his efforts to have a logging inspection report corrected to reflect what he considered to be violations of best management practices during the harvest. A summary of his presentation is on the KWOA Practices page at www.kwoa.net.
Guest presentation from Dendri Fund
Barbara Hurt, Dendri Fund Executive Director, explained that the Dendri Fund is an independent foundation that gives grants focused on working groups: wood, water and grains. Born out of Brown Forman, a family-owned business, the Fund invests in building relationships, creating dialogue and shared learning, and fueling innovative solutions bringing together diverse perspectives. The Fund is in the process of changing its policy from a transactional to transformative grant-making process.
McCauley Adams, with Dendri’s wood working group, spoke about its focus on the importance of wood products to Brown Forman and to the quality of life for Kentucky’s future generations. Members brought up possible topics of mutual interest such as sustainable management of forests, the importance of other species besides oak and barrel-making and the threats from invasives.
KWOF sponsors six programs during 2017 with $3,450 in funding
KWOF contributed sponsorships to the following entities during 2017:
Greenup County Conservation District – $400 – to help fund their annual Woods and Wildlife for Your Wallet program.
Leopold Conservation Award – $500 – honors Kentucky farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who voluntarily demonstrate outstanding stewardship and management of natural resources.
UK Forestry Student Scholarship – $1,000 – to an outstanding student enrolled in the University of Kentucky’s professional forestry degree program.
Woodland Owners Short Course – $650 – The WOSC is designed to assist Kentucky’s woodland owners in the care and management of their woodland resource.
UK Kentucky Forestry Leadership Program – $400 – for two competitive scholarships to the weeklong program at Jabez for students interested in natural resource management.
Salt River Watershed Project- $500 – managed through the Kentucky Waterways Alliance.
New Kentucky Division of Forestry Director outlines plans for agency
Recently appointed Director James Wright introduced himself and updated the board on agency activities and plans. Mr. Wright reported on staffing levels at the agency and his goal to streamline management personnel and increase field staff, including an urban forester position. There is real hope to have US Fish &Wildlife Service provide ongoing support on all enforcement issues. Kentucky foresters are being sent to other states on fires and management practices through new neighbor agreements with the US Forest Service. These changes are saving general fund dollars and looking in new directions to fund and promote sustainable forestry.
Pam Snyder, KDF Stewardship Branch Manager, reported that emerald ash borer has been found in six more counties. The division is re-gearing to roles that have an economic return. It is developing a cooperative agreement with NRCS on easements and timber stand improvement.
Emerald ash borer
The office of the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture has agreed to hold a meeting to discuss issues and economics related to the emerald ash borer. The emerald ash borer (or EAB), a native of Asia, is a half inch long dark metallic green beetle that kills ash trees within three to five years after they become infested.
Former KWOA president Joe Ball has contacted several statewide agencies and associations regarding the EAB threat. He assured the board that forestry is a big issue for the current commissioner, Ryan Quarles. In discussions with the commissioner’s marketing staffer, Ball thinks that woodland owners who have experienced timber loss from EAB damage may qualify for disaster relief funds. The USDA Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Forest Restoration Program provides payments to eligible owners of rural nonindustrial private forest land to carry out emergency measures to restore forest health on land damaged by natural disaster events. Insect disease is mentioned as damage that is eligible for relief funds.
UK Forestry Extension is developing a fact sheet utilizing existing forest inventory data for ash trees and EAB infestations to project the economic impact of resultant stumpage, canopy and overall downstream loss from this invasive. (Ash trees comprise seven percent of forest species in Kentucky.) Joe Ball recommended that loss payment be tied to cleanup and active management of future timber.
Have you conducted a timber harvest on your land? Was the experience what you expected? Were you satisfied with the results? Or if you are considering a harvest, what questions and concerns do you have?
KWOA/KWOF is starting a series of articles on the topic of timber harvests. The series will include articles, publications and resources on contracts, harvesting, best management practices, landowner relationships with and responsibilities of consulting foresters, logging inspections and reports, remediation for and correction of BMP violations.
To begin the series we are providing a list of articles that have been published in the University of Kentucky Forestry Extension’s Kentucky Woodlands Magazine. The articles are listed chronologically beginning with the magazine’s first issue in 2006. To read the full articles go to: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/KYWoodlandsmagazine/about.php.
We would also like to hear from woodland owners about their experiences, questions and lessons learned. Please submit comments, questions and/or articles to email@example.com.
Kentucky’s Consulting Foresters
November 2006 1.2
Christopher J. Will
Kentucky Master Loggers and Woodland Owners
April 2007 2.1
Forestry Water Quality Plans
April 2008 3.1
Amanda Abnee Gumbert
Selective Harvesting Part One
Sustainable Management of High-grading?
August 2008 3.2
Selective Harvesting Part Two
Elements of a Selective Harvest
December 2008 3.3
Managing and Preventing Woodland Degradation
December 2009 4.3
Timber Measurements, Products, Harvesting, and Sales
April 2010 5.1
Tracking the Establishment of Invasive Exotic Species in a Timber Harvest
August 2011 6.2
Kevin Devine, Jeff Stringer, Songlin Fei, Chris Barton
December 20102 7.2
Selecting a Logger
April 2013 8.1
Logging and Woodland Owners
How to Protect Yourself from Bad Actors
August 2013 8.2
Jeff Stringer and Mark Schuster
It’s Your Woods
(So Know Your Ags and Ugs)
December 2013 8.3
Hardwood Timber Products and Tree Value
Winter 2014 9.2
Kentucky’s Woodland Owners and Logging Best Management Practices
Summer/Fall 2015 10.1
Protecting Woodlands from Timber Theft and Trespass
Spring 2016 10.2
Jeff Stringer, Chad Niman, Billy Thomas
Changes to Kentucky’s Forestry Best Management Practices
Spring 2016 10.2
Jeff Stringer and MacKenzie Schaeffer
Kentucky Landowners and Logging BMP’s
Summer 2017 11.1
Marking Your Woodland Boundary
Summer 2017 11.1
Laurie Taylor Thomas
The Salt River Watershed Watch project plants trees, shrubs and grasses in riparian areas to improve water quality. The project is designed to raise awareness of the importance of the riparian zone, and the important part it plays in water quality. Last fall SRWW volunteers planted 1500 trees and hundreds of grasses and forbes along streams in Jefferson, Meade and Nelson counties.
The project focuses on Breckinridge, Bullitt, Jefferson, Oldham and Shelby Counties but will work anywhere in the basin. It is looking for landowners to provide property for plantings.
Identify riparian planting sites. If you own land along a creek you may nominate it. We will secure agreements with the landowners to allow us to come onto the property and they need to be willing to provide maintenance of trees/shrub seedlings for at least the first two years. If you know of a site with habitat that would be classified as “marginal” or “poor” please email Stephen Perry, Riparian Corridor Enhancement Project Manager at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the project and its latest progress reports go to https://sites.google.com/site/saltriverwatershedwatch/.
The project is supported by the Virginia Environmental Endowment, Kentucky Woodland Owners Association, UK Extension Service and Jefferson County Extension Office. The Salt River project is a pilot that hopes to be the lead on a statewide project.
Interest and demand for white oak timber supply is extremely high which has raised some concerns about the long-term sustainability of this invaluable resource. To address this concern, the Sustainability of White Oak Timber Conference was held at the Kentucky Forest Industries Annual Meeting on April 4, 2017. This conference was hosted by UK Forestry Extension—this is the second white oak meeting they have organized to address white oak supply in the last few years. Approximately 100 people attended the one day Sustainability of White Oak Timber Conference which provided information to industries dependent upon white oak and organizations/agencies associated with these industries. State and national experts provided updates on oak stand development, current forest inventory and monitoring, the issues affecting future white oak supply, and the need to establish a White Oak Partnership. There was overwhelming support amongst those in attendance to create a White Oak Partnership to address the following:
- Proper monitoring of white oak growth and drain
- Resources focused on addressing white oak threats
- Economic modelling associated with determining white oak availability
- Elected officials and governmental organizations understand the importance of this resource
- Development of a National White Oak Initiative to help protect and improve white oak sustainability
If you would like to learn more about the White Oak Partnership please visit www.ukforestry.org or call Dr. Jeff Stringer at 859.257.5994.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you” is the ultimate conversation stopper, says Steve Isaacs, UK extension coordinator for farm management, in the complex and often unpleasant and unproductive dialogue between family generations regarding what will happen to the family farm.
Family farm succession is about more than legal and tax implications according to Dr. Isaacs who is also director for the UK Tax Education Program. It is about the transfer of assets, management, leadership and, yes, debt in a cyclical process.
Isaacs stressed that the first priority in this cycle is assuring an adequate retirement income for the parents. The estate tax is a paper tiger for most people; “death taxes don’t destroy family farms… families do.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are only two categories of workers that are older than farmers – school crossing guards and Walmart greeters.
Isaacs recommended engaging a transition team familiar with farmland issues that could include an attorney, accountant, financial planner, lender, extension educator and/or business consultant. This team’s function is to identify and generate ideas, technical information, evaluation and suggestions.
Isaacs recommended conducting the transition discussion at a neutral location, not at the family kitchen table. He advised treating siblings fairly, not necessarily equally and include spouses in the discussion.
A facilitator and recorder will summarize and document the items on which the family has agreed.
With some guidance and a transition plan, Isaacs says the conversation by the entire family can become “Here’s how we’re going to take care of things.”
Steve will be conducting a full day session on this subject in the near future. Check our events page for that announcement.
Chris Will, Consulting Forester, advised annual meeting attendees to consider three important items when considering the purchase of a woodland property:
the tax consequences of selling a woodlands property versus holding it as an investment
protect it with a survey
develop a forest management plan and keep the plan updated.
Will was part of a panel discussing Woodland Acquisition Criteria at the 2017 KWOA annual meeting.
Thanks to Harry Pelle, KWOA board member, for sharing this story
While marking fifty acres for a timber stand improvement project on their property on April 23rd, Harry and Karen Pelle along with Chris Will, their consulting forester, found quite a welcome surprise. They discovered a couple of American Chestnut root sprouts. Harry admits there have been other aspiring chestnut seedlings over the thirty years the Pelle’s have been traversing their tree farm near Bradfordsville but they didn’t know what to look for.
The day before, Earth Day, they had helped plant 1200 American Chestnuts at Eastern Kentucky University’s Taylor Fork Ecological Area.
The effort with The American Chestnut Foundation seeks to restore the iconic tree as a staple in eastern forests.
That recent experience may have made the Pelle’s more aware of the chestnut’s latest effort to re-establish itself in the territory where it once reigned.
The Pelle’s marked the spot where they found the tree sprouts on Chris’s GPS and with a tee post.
The Pelle’s also cleared the area around the sprouts of fallen tops and brush. They intend to monitor the potential trees’ progress and just maybe these two will beat the Chestnut Blight that decimated the regions mighty giants. It may be the next generation of Pelles that will have to continue the watch over the seedlings.
The newest trees are in good company. Harry has an American Chestnut restoration grove just down the hill from the little guys. He likes to think the trees’ ancestors are looking down the hill and cheering on their new cousins in the fight to beat the blight. Harry thinks the finding of the sprouts “might have been the chestnuts’ way of saying ‘thanks for the help.’”
Central Kentucky still boasts one of the largest populations of presettlement trees in the nation according to Tom Kimmerer, scientist, photographer and former UK faculty member, in his new book Venerable Trees. However, these ancient trees and the remaining woodland pastures in which they reside are in danger. Chief among the culprits threatening these ancient trees is the flowering pear tree. “We have to stop planting Callery pears” says Kimmerer in an article in the March 30th Lexington Herald-Leader.
Going by various names – Bradford, Callery, Cleveland Select -these cultivars interbreed and create an invasive wild population of hybrid Callery pear trees.
Birds and wind distribute the tasty fruit of these trees across fields where new trees are crowding out natives plants and trees. Callery pears have four-inch thorns that can’t be mowed down and can be removed only by steel-tracked bulldozers.
Article excerpts courtesy Lexington Herald-Leader