field skills lacking? was Stumpage vales, was :Ignorance Tax

Michael Hagen mhagen at
Sat Dec 6 15:20:26 EST 1997

Sure grading is a challenge. Especially when you're on a slippery,
brushy 90% slope, in the rain, peering up through understory at 180'old
growth with your relaskop and rangefinder, for log end diameters to get
sort, grade and defect. Not to mention getting an accurate sample. 

I can see why some folk would rather write EA's or clean teeth or be
realtors and why foresters would rather "manage". Reality is that most
small NIPF tracts here are not managed by anyone but a high grader. With
rare exceptions, such as a few Indian tribes, the non industrial forest
owners cut whatever they have, whenever the market's up. And the little
ones slip through the State Forest Practice rules.  A consulting
forester pretty much has to specialize with skills in hydrology,
fisheries rehab or wildlife or give in and cruise timber sales for the
big outfits.  Cruising and inventory are really the bread and butter for
independants around here.

Regarding the thread, when you're selling, the less you guarantee, the
better. Its easier on the ulcer. But you better know what's really there
or your client (seller or buyer) is not well served. The "volumes and
grade are not guaranteed" clause is standard in sale contracts here too
but due to tight margins and a preference for lump sum sales, the
figures had better be within a few % of the cutout.

Listing volume breakdown in grades is a bit of a fudge factor. Normally
a sale is described in a grade breakdown on the prospectus. It's
accurate because Grades have NO variability from the written description
in the Bureau Scale Book. A #2 DF sawlog is identifiable as such all the
time. But around here, sales aren't evaluated on the basis of grades as
much as they are on sorts. A tree is graded, but the logs are cut as
sorts and they may not be the same piece of wood.

Since most wood is exported and has to fit efficiently into a ship's
hold, straightness and clearness are important. In a way, this means
there is a stumpage penalty for "airspace". High sort logs fit together
as tight as bundles of pipe, lower sort wood has knots and sweep and
swelled butts separating the sticks in the bundle. And there is no
defect in the wood. That's all domestic, folks. 

So the hapless cruiser (working for a buyer) gets to call sorts over
grades and break logs accordingly when he looks at a tree. I carry a
notebook that lists from 5 to 12 sorts for each of the merch species and
that is just from one major buyer.  


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