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Hello all, I am purchasing 40 acres of land with mainly Oak on the property. It has never been logged and is all forest. My question is what to do with the all the trees? I am contemplating having it professionally logged OR buying a sawmill, milling and selling locally. There will be a learning curve with the mill as I have never done this before. What are the pros and cons of each? I figure it will take years to clear myself but I will have a somewhat steady income instead of a lump sum from logging. Plus all lumber the lumber/firewood I could ever use.
 

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I think in this case, your best bet will be to contact the forestry service and consult them what would be the best thing to do....

If you have hilly land like I think I remember you saying, if you clear cut it, you will end up with a muddy eroding mess... My land had been clear cut years and years ago.. .like back in the 30's or so.. You can see all the damage from erosion years ago.. very deep ravines and what I call washes that run down all my hills..

I've got about 50 acres much like what you describe.. I will selectively cut trees for my use, but I will not sell them.. If I do sell anything, it will be lumber that I've milled.

I DO NOT want anyone doing any work on my land.. THey don't care about it. All they care about is money, and time is money, so they will take a lot of shortcuts..

My neighbor had someone come in and cut his property. The guy had a good reputation, but he still did a ton of damage that the neighbor took years of work to repair..

I'm leaving mine wooded and clearing out because I don't need to graze animals, and I don't have the time to let it become pasture... I'd rather use the land for hunting.. I can get all the meat I need to fill my freezers every year by taking what mother nature provides..

You may see a gold mine in all those trees, but once they are gone, they are gone.. You'll never have old trees in your lifetime again on that property, so think long and hard before you see dollar signs... In the long run, if you do things wrong, it will cost you more than you make..

Consider selective cutting, and leave yourself the woods...
 

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If you are a deer hunter, this would be a gold mine. You have it selectively clear cut to maintain cover yet allow for browse to grow - find a person that does this type of specific cutting for hunters (and find a good one that will not butcher up your land). And if you are not a hunter yourself, you could lease this out to hunters. Expect to have at most 2 hunters at about $450 per hunter each year in your area. You might pull in a few thousand just from selectively cutting your oak. As the remaining oak trees age, you will also have a lot of good squirrel hunting.

Even if you are not a hunter nor do you want to lease out, selectively cutting will make for some nice wildlife. Also will help on erosion, as stated.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I should have been more specific, I plan on selectively cutting the hills and clear cutting the parts that are fairly flat to use for garden/pasture. There is about 25 acres of hill and 15 flat. I will still leave some trees on the flat mainly for shade while grazing and a good spot to rest around the garden.
 

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I would put a cabin smack dab in the center of those 40 acres. It would be our retreat. :)

Ok so thats my pipe dream:happy:
I have the house.. not a cabin... but my dream is to build a treehouse kind of structure on the back of our property with a really nice view.. I've got a few places picked out, but I'm not seeing how I can get the time to get things cleared to where I could haul materials to them spots... All up hills you can hardly walk... But if there's a will... ;)

About the hunting.... I'd be real careful about renting it out... liability is a huge issue, especially if you are charging people to hunt on your land..

Last night I was sitting on the front porch with my wife watching a few deer about 40 yards from us on the hill... I told her I can't wait till dear season so I could just sit in my rocker on the porch and pick a couple off.. .

I could never imagine my land as cleared and pastures..... . but I could see cleaned out for better browsing as mentioned.. .
 

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A few years back my partner and I bought a 500 acre working farm that had about 50 acres or so of mature timber. Sadly the putz we bought the place from had already sold the timber, and they had a year in which to harvest. He went to the forest service "experts" who appraised the timber.... he sold it for its appraised value... 20k... within two weeks that timber contract had been sold and resold 5 times! The outfit that wound up actually cutting the timber paid 400k for it, and I am quite sure they made a good profit as well. I would be very careful with forest service appraisals if it were my timber. Timber is a tricky business at best.... I have seen a many good tree cut up for firewood.... trees that would have made top grade veneer or the finest grade lumber... a single tree can be worth several thousand bucks... be careful with your forest, whatever you decide. :)
 

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Timber is VERY VERY tricky. The forest service was useless for me.

When you get there, look at other local timber cutters and see who does the kind of selective harvest you want done. Make friends first. Cut in a few years.... selectively.
 

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Selective cut the mature trees to a trusted harvester, but
I would only remove no more than half of the stand.
Leave enough forest, if not for wildlife, then think about
the wind break trees provide. You might regret clear cutting.
 

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I remember it is near Fort Smith and all the timber has been cut at least once from that area. Mature growth trees should be at least 4 feet across at breast height. Just something to think about.
Buying a mill to cut your own lumber is a idea but will take up 15 acres of space. How will you dry it? Green lumber can be sold at a cheap price.
Call the Arkansas Forestry Commission to cruse your 40 acres to tell you what to expect from it and the technical aspects of cutting and milling.
 

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Having it commercially logged will get you maybe 20 cents a board foot...a small, quick profit.....and likely leave you a huge mess to deal with. You'll end up with more firewood than you can burn from the tops, and most of it will rot before you ever get a chance to use it. Removing the stumps for pasture will cost about as much as you got from the logging. ( price the hourly rate on a large trackhoe or bulldozer that it takes to do this)

OR

You can buy a small bandmill, (10-20k) harvest the timber slowly, build all kinds of improvements to your place, and sell excess for 50-60 cents per board foot green, a dollar if you spend 5 cents to kiln dry it ( either a solar or window AC powered kiln like I have), and 2-5 dollars a board foot if you turn it into a product, like cabinets, trim, furniture, (I built 3 rental houses),etc. You have a resource that will provide you with a good supplemental income forever, in addition to a renewable source of firewood.

In other words, you DIDN'T trip over a long term dollar to go for a short term dime, like a lot of folks have done. You can build some real wealth off a resource, and not ruin it.

You pick.
 

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Do nothing with this property for at least a year or two. Give it time to season in your brain that you own a mature oak forest....and allow yourself plenty of time to explore all the possibilities.

The value of your oak trees will range from a few thousand dollars up to 6 figures. Your trees can be harvested only once.
Do your very best to ascertain whether your forest is worth a few thousand or 6 figures. Most logging contractors will lowball landowners.....simply because they possess the knowledge of knowing fairly close how much your trees are worth.

I am reminded of a logging contractor that laughingly told me a story. He stated a friend of his wanted to sell his trees to him and asked if he would give him what it was worth. The logging contractor told his friend he had no interest in giving him what it was worth.....as he was in business to make profits.

Remember that logging contracts are drawn up for the benefit of the logging contractor, not the landowner.
High grade oak currently exceeds $1 per board foot.

Proceed slowly and cautiously. Trust no forester, mill owner, wood buyers, logging contractors. Visit current logging sites and talk to landowners. See how much they actually receive. See the mess left behind. See the court docket.....as lawsuits are common in logging operations. Nonpayment being a most common cause.
 

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Be careful with the term selective cut. Most loggers will select the most valuable trees to cut and leave you with garbage. I believe this is called high grading. The problem with high grading is that it removes all of the good genetics and leaves the genetically inferior trees to re-seed. A true forester who makes decisions for the good of the forest will retain many of the trees that have the highest timber value. You will loose some money on the current harvest, but increase the value of harvests for generations to come.
A good plan may also include several smaller harvests a few years apart, rather than one big cutting every 20-25 years. You also need to manage the land between cuttings to remove unwanted species and prevent overcrowding. There are billions of seeds in the ground that have been dropped by birds and other animals, some of them will germinate when light hits the ground where it couldn't before. Unfortunately a lot of things that you don't want will pop up. On my land where all of the high dollar oaks and tulip polplars were taken, I now have sugar maples choking out everything and no oak or poplar regeneration.
 

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There should be somebody who is a tree cutter, not a logger. Edison hires crews to trim trees and take down those that are a danger. A tree cutter will be able to take a tree down without hurting himself. If you are not careful, you can die trimming trees or cutting them down.
 
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