Timber Sales - Specifically planned to achieve the owner’s objectives and conducted to receive the highest possible price for the timber offered for sale. When conducting a timber sale, our primary goal is to receive the highest possible price for the timber offered for sale with the constraints associated with the sale. Protecting the integrity of the property and preserving its long-term management options are key factors when evaluating all timber sale options. All timber sales are implemented in accordance with the Timber Management Plan designed by AFM to meet the owner’s requirements.
Best Management Practices
Sales are designed to protect water quality and site productivity by adhering to the Best Management Practices (BMPs) as outlined by each state’s department of forestry. BMPs are common-sense practices such as:
- leaving buffers along creeks and streams (streamside management zones or SMZs)
- installing water bars to prevent erosion on logging roads and skid trails
- controlling creek and stream crossings with logging equipment.
These practices help preserve the soil and water quality of the property, meet state logging guidelines (where required) and have little, if any, negative effect on timber sale income.
Timber Sale Areas
The timber sale areas are designed by marking property boundaries or cutting areas with paint or by using obvious natural boundaries such as premerchantable pines, roads, and powerline rights-of-way, etc.
All streamside management zones are excluded from timber sale areas by painting a boundary around them. In some instances, high-value sawtimber or veneer trees are selectively harvested from within the SMZ, but only to the extent that the integrity of the buffer can be maintained.
Clearcuts are often both the most efficient and profitable method of timber harvesting and the best method to insure good reforestation. When utilizing clearcuts, the sale area will be designated as described above. The clearcut areas are designed to fit topographic configurations and utilize natural boundaries where feasible and avoid strict geometric patterns. The timber sale area is inventoried using one of two methods (or possibly a combination of the two). The timber inventory sampling (cruising) is designed to provide a statistical significant sampling of +/- 10% at the 90% confidence level based on the sale acreage and uniformity. Small acreages or diverse stands may require 100% tree count of the timber sale area to obtain accurate timber volume and value information.
Select-Cut Harvests and Thinnings
Select cuts or thinnings can be used for several harvesting operations. These include:
- Seed Tree Cuts
- Shelterwood Cuts
- Crop Tree Thinnings
- Pulpwood Thinnings
- Wildlife Habitat Improvement
Partial harvests require some type of designation of either the trees to remove or the trees to leave. Painting the desired trees at chest-height and on the stump are typical methods of designating which trees stay or are harvested, as designated in the timber sale prospectus. The timber volume offered in the sale is determined by either a 100% tree count of the sale area or a cruise of the sale area after the trees are marked. Pine pulpwood thinnings involve the removal of every fifth row of planted trees, or harvesting parallel corridors spaced 50 to 60 feet apart, followed by selecting trees between the rows to remove. The selection process begins with the removal of damaged or diseased trees, and continues to those with poor form or understory trees unlikely to make sawtimber until the desired stocking of trees is reached. Pulpwood thinnings are designed to promote the development of the residual stand into chip-n-saw and sawtimber trees.
Timber Sale Process
Typically, clearcut sales are sold on a lump-sum, sealed-bid basis. Select cuts and thinnings are sold on both sealed-bid and negotiated basis, and can be either lump-sum amounts or paid per unit harvested. Lump-sum sales include a 100% payment upon the signing of the Contract or Deed or a 95% “advance payment” at closing allowing the owner to retain an economic interest for tax considerations (section 631 US Tax Code). Per unit sales typically paid on a weekly basis, although it is typical to include an advanced deposit of 50% of the anticipated harvest income from which weekly stumpage is deducted. Once the advance payment is depleted, weekly stumpage checks are issued through the completion of the harvest. Once the sale areas have been designated and inventoried, a bid invitation is prepared. The bid invitation, which is distributed to all qualified buyers in the area:
- stipulates the conditions of the sale
- provides volume and quality summaries
- includes a timber sale map showing sale area and location.
In some instances, sales with conditions that require special consideration may be negotiated directly with specific buyers with known ability to meet contract requirements and pay market prices. Once a successful buyer is determined, the conditions of sale as stipulated in the bid invitation are included in the Timber Sale Contract or Timber Deed. AFM foresters then supervise all logging activities and enforce the conditions of sales in the Deed or Contract.