forester licensing regs in Massachusetts

Ron Wenrich woodtick at
Wed Dec 30 18:20:44 EST 1998

KMorrisD wrote:

> >Ron Wenrich <woodtick at> wrote:
> >The problem we have with forestry is that the vast amount of
> >landowners don't like what we are trying to sell.  The crop takes too long >to
> grow, and in this day of instant gratification, most landowners are turned >off
> by the idea of saving something for the next generation.
> I find most landowners are happy to hear that they can be earning 10-15% on
> their timber investment with good management--and doing good stewardship at the
> same time.  But if they've talked to other consultants, and especially if
> they've talked to our state disservice foresters, they may be skeptical about
> my claims.
> Most consultants, and ALL disservice foresters, are still reciting the old 3-5%
> mantra.  Consultants don't like to admit they've been conned, and disservice
> foresters don't like to admit they've been conning consultants and the public
> for decades.

Historically, hardwoods have outstripped inflation by 3%.  This doesn't count
growth, just value change.  Still, the amount of time from management to the time
of payoff is farther off than most other investments.  Then you have the old guy
who wants to liquidate the stand instead of giving it to the kids.  If a landowner
wants cash, the stand will be liquidated, no matter what the rate of return is.
And with land changing hands at the rate of once every 7 yrs, continuous mgmt is a
fleeting fantasy.

> >The regulation would than be that all commercial harvesting of timber will
> >require a harvesting plan registered by a licensed forester.
> That's exactly what we're talking about here in MA.

The only place that there are any required harvesting plans in PA is a few local
govts.  No licensing in PA, and without any complaints, I don't see it anytime

> > The problem is that the enforcement of these regulations are by the local
> >engineer, who just rubber stamps whatever the logger wants.  It may be >easier
> to implement the regs that you want at a local level.
> What you have with local engineers approving harvesting plans is totally
> bonkers.  I mean, that makes MA sound like forestry paradise. <G>  So are you
> talking about just shifting that authority to licensed foresters?  If so, that
> sounds reasonable.
> But there would still be the problem of hundreds of different sets of regs by
> different towns and counties.  Or is this something that you and other
> foresters and loggers can live with?

Actually, the few Mickey Mouse regs that have been adopted by locals have been
easily sidestepped by the industry.  You have to realize that none of these regs
have been written by a competent forester.  They have been written because of some
lousy logging jobs.  The regs are written and administered by the twp engineer.
Some require a mgmt plan.  These engineers will readily admit that they have no
qualifications to review my work and will just OK anything that comes across their
desk that has a BS forester's name on it.  So, the regs are pretty much worthless
since the enforcement is lacking.

However, if an astute consultant were to approach these locals and help them write
meaningful regs and do the reviews, everyone would be better off.  No consultants
have stepped up to the plate as of yet.  After one or two locals have an effective
program, others will mirror that program or make it better.  I doubt if there will
be hundreds of different regs.  Eventually, I imagine it would become pretty

> >Commercial logging on self owned lands would be exempt, as well as state >and
> federal lands.
> Why would these lands be exempt?

I would exempt these lands to get around the "takings" issue on private lands.
State and federal lands can't be regulated at the local level.  Otherwise the
locals would tax them at the same rate as the privates.   Very few individuals
would be equiped to log their own lands, except local farmers and loggers.  This
gives some protection to the other landowners.


More information about the Ag-forst mailing list