forestry on private land in Europe??

Larry Caldwell larryc at teleport.com
Fri Mar 28 09:22:01 EST 1997


In article <01bc3a4a$9bfd7040$4a544dcf at woodtick.lebmofo.com>,
"Ron Wenrich" <woodtick at lebmofo.com> wrote:

> I was wondering if a Forest Practices Act has had any influence on forest
> management in states that has instituted it.  I think it's a good idea to
> have all professionals in the woods licensed.  This would include foresters
> as well as loggers.  Tax incentives may be offered to those carrying out
> good forest stewardship.  As for the state reviewing private forester's
> work, I would welcome it.  It may help eliminate some of the problems of
> economic clearcuts.  But, it would only work as long as the state is not
> rubber stamping the plans.  Anybody out there have experience with working
> in a state with a Forest Practices Act?

Well, I'm approaching it from the standpoint of a landowner rather than
a forester, but Oregon has a Forest Practices Act.  Forestry is a major
part of the state's economy.  Even with the recent limits on harvest of
federal lands, forestry plays tag with high tech for the #2 industry
spot.  BTW, we have a LOT of high tech.

There is a major property tax advantage to managing land for forestry.
It relieves you of 90% of the tax burden on the property, and in addition
the timber is not calculated as part of the taxable value.  You actually
pay property taxes on less than 10% of the value of the bare land, so
the property tax alone pays for forest management.  In addition, 40%
of reforestation and afforestation expenses can be claimed as a tax credit
on the state income tax over 3 years.

I've also been surprised to read timber prices in other parts of the country.
Maybe it's the presence of so many highly efficient computerized mills, but
rumor has it that stumpage prices for Doug fir will hit $750/mbf this summer.

I do a lot of my own work, but have hired foresters for advice and consulting
from time to time.  The last property I sold brought a premium price because
I paid for a cruise when fir was $1,000/mbf and tacked the timber value
onto the sale price.  I got the money too.

Millionaires are pretty thick on the ground around here.  A friend just
hired a forester to lay out a commercial thinning on a 350 acre parcel.
Current cruised value on the timber that will be left standing is about
$2.5 million.  He's getting a lot of work and a quarter million dollars
out of the scrub and trash.  He's retired and doesn't need the money.
Twenty years from now, his 4 kids will all be millionaires.

I'm dickering with a friend to buy the 160 acres next to me.  He's been
dragging his feet for a year now because he just doesn't want the money.
He bought it two years ago, logged it, paid for it out of the proceeds,
pocketed a big wad of cash, and is sitting on it.  

This county has about 2.7 million acres of timber.  The state has one
public forester that works private parcels.  All the big timber companies
like Weyerhauser and Boise Cascade hire their own, the BLM and USFS
have foresters, and there are several consulting foresters in the phone
book.  I don't know what kind of living they make, but there seems to
be plenty of work.  It may be a function of population.  The largest
town in the county is only 19,000 people, so we're dealing with a large
resource base and a small population to deal with it.

Agriculture and food production leads the state economy with $5 billion
annual gross.  Timber and high tech manufacturing tie with about 
$2.5 billion apiece.  Most of this is new wealth, not pass through
economic activity.  In a state with a population of only 3 million,
that is a really sweet annual cash flow.  It's considered good
politics to promote that through laws and tax structure.

With the population exploding and resources getting tight, it only makes
sense to promote productive use of the land.  Forestry is a wonderful
soil conservation practice, and a nice low-input production technique.
Good luck getting your local laws changed.  A good FPA is a wonderful
asset to the landowner too.

-- Larry



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