forester licensing regs in Massachusetts

Michael Hagen mhagen at
Wed Dec 30 12:42:15 EST 1998

Where in the US do engineers authorize private (?) harvest plans? 

That makes as much sense as the USDA-NRCS (the former soil conservation
service) signing off on them.  
With tongue only partly in cheek; I've walked many damaged riparian
areas and I tend to agree that indeed civil engineers could do a better
job than those who laid out the cut units. Or dentists.  

In this state (WA) the Dept.of Natural Resources regulates harvest
practices on private lands. This has good and bad points but still
raises the general environmental quality of harvest over past practice.
On the good side, the regs are the outcome of active involvement of
tribes, fishermen, foresters and environmental groups. Without going
into the process too much, this has allowed state lands to sidestep much
of the shutdown affecting federal forests. 

On the bad side, the existence of a strong DNR limits the niche occupied
by private forester consultants since they will provide some service for
free including filling out the paperwork. They won't manage a sale but
they will do everything up to recommending a logger for the job, who
then takes over for the small landowner.  Licensing Foresters would be a
step in the right direction since there would then be no need for
"service foresters" to fill the gap. However, the people who have been
working as foresters, for all agencies except the feds, may now have
virtually any background whatsoever as long as they have ample field
time.  I have known many older forest techs operating as competent
foresters, a scattering of engineers, a brace of biologists and one MA
English Lit. And he wasn't bad.  The situation is muddied by the fact
that DNR would likely hire any one of them, if there were ever job
openings, which there aren't.  And they'd coach their guys to pass the
test if there was one. The necessity of grand fathering most everybody
in the business makes it just one step out of many to follow.

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

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