consultant contracts

KMorrisD kmorrisd at
Tue Aug 18 17:19:41 EST 1998

Joseph Zorzin wrote:
> To Bill Rivers
> Program Supervisor
> Management Forestry
> Mass. DEM
> Dear Bill,
> I have just reviewed your letter to consultants regarding a Request for
> Response for contracts for "professional forestry services".
> The general scuttlebutt among consultants is that the offered fee of
> $22/hour is insufficient.

As a consulting forester, I'd say it's about HALF the going rate for
experienced people. I certainly wouldn't work for less than $45 per

> My opinion on the matter is that any organization has the privilege of
> offering whatever it wants for whatever service. Fair enough.
> However, to say that you are looking for "professional forestry
> services" and then only offer $22/hr. (and no offer to compensate for
> travel expenses) is a MASSIVE INSULT to the profession of forestry. What
> person who considers himself a "professional" would work for that kind
> of fee on a contract basis? NONE. 

There are some people with recent forestry degrees, who call themselves
consulting foresters, who would work for that rate.

What this indicates is that you and
> the DEM really mean to say that you do not consider forestry consultants
> to be professionals, but common laborers, and you would have trouble
> finding common laborers on a contract basis at that rate. Now, that also
> is fair enough if you used the term "common forest laborer". 

I think that's really what DEM is looking for: forestry technicians. 
They just aren't straightforward enough to come out and say it.

It is
> obvious that you really only want students fresh out of college or any
> consultant so desperate as to work for this pittance. The fact that
> these foresters will be of lower quality than real forestry
> professionals is of little concern to you, rather the DEM wants people
> who will be easy to control; productivity has never been a huge issue in
> the DEM. 


> If "professional forestry services" are really worth only $22/hour, I
> suggest to all the politicians who read this that they should fire all
> the DEM foresters and rehire them on a contract basis at $22/hour, which
> would result in a massive savings of a few million dollars per year.

Excellent idea!  Hire them back at $22 per hour for time they actually
spend in the woods--no benefits, no expenses, no secretarial, no


> And furthermore, it is common knowledge that the management foresters
> HAVE NOT BEEN OVERWORKED the past several years, your entire state wide
> staff having sold less timber than any decent consultant could do alone.

There are data from the National Association of State Foresters at (Thoreau Institute) which
indicate that in 1993, DEM state forester costs were 151% of `total user
fee revenue,` which includes timber sales AND all other income.  I
believe timber sales are down considerably since 1993, but personnel and
costs are at least the same.  I wonder what the cost percentage is now:
200%? 300%? 400%? 500%?  

My TOTAL fees for large landowners (with timber and growing stock of
comparable size and quality as the state forests) are in the range of
15%-25%.  This includes inventory, appraisal, financial analysis,
management planning, boundary blazing and painting, timber marking and
sales administration. 

Washington State gets all their forest management work done for under
25% of total revenues. There are a few other states that are in the same
range of efficiency.  See the Thoreau Institute webpage.  Why is
Massachusetts so inefficient?   

> They should be doing this work themselves, rather than the taxpayers
> paying more money for "common forest laborers". 

DEM has 8 full time `management foresters.`  The last time they did an
inventory for the state forests was 1979--and they subcontracted the
work!  So what do these people do all day?  On our taxpayer tab?

It is also common
> knowledge that a major reason for hiring more people is that the more
> staff you have, the more you can seek higher salaries as supervisors and
> the better your pensions will be. And I accuse our lame state
> politicians of stupidity for going along with this.
> I challenge anyone receiving this message to refute what I say.

I don't think that's possible.  But I'll be interested to see any
attempts.  Thanks for taking the initiative, Joe.


More information about the Ag-forst mailing list