If you have woodlands, you might have trees that are worth a lot of money and are ready for market. But before you rush in, consider some sound advice from Liz Jackson, executive director of the Indiana Forestry and Woodland Owners Association:
"Call before you cut."
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources' Call Before You Cut program, in which Jackson's group and Purdue University are partners, connects woodlands owners with forestry experts who provide information to help them manage their property. A professional forester, for instance, can determine whether trees are ready for harvesting, a decision driven by trees' size, vigor, quality and market demand. Selecting the right trees at the right time can bring more dollars and a healthier forest.
"The income that property owners can get from their trees can be a good deal," Jackson says.
The value of trees is less, however, when they are cut too early—before what Jackson calls their "economic maturity"—or too late, when they steadily decline in quality and value.
By properly managing woodlands, such as by removing lower-quality trees so others have room to grow, owners can harvest their marketable trees typically every 15-20 years, compared with every 30-40 years on poorly managed property.
"The value that we have in well-managed woodlands is absolutely wonderful," Jackson says. "But we sometimes have an under-appreciated asset."
Jackson also advises woodlands owners to beware of people who show up at their door uninvited and offer to pay for cutting down and removing their trees. Some might not care what condition they leave the property in after they have done their work, and they might not offer the best deal for the property owner.
"So that $15,000 check you get could have been $20,000 if you had done your homework," Jackson says. "Do your due diligence. Know what you have on your land."
And, she repeats, "Call before you cut."
The telephone number for Call Before You Cut is 888-939-9493. The program's website is at http://www.callb4ucut.com.
Feature: See the forest for the trees