Once I get the roads completed, it’s time to start the woodlot management aspect of forest ownership. I have a background in soils, conservation and forestry, so I will do my own timber cruise and management plan, but I am also bringing in a few friends who are foresters and/or sawmill operators by profession to give me some advice, and hopefully some tips on markets and timber values. You learn more by shutting up and listening than by yacking away constantly. As I have mentioned previously, a man must know his limitations.
The woodlot has hemlock, white cedar, red maple, white pine, balsam fir, some sugar maple and other species. I should be able to supply a farm or two with cedar fence posts, and have the larger diameter ones milled out for boards.
First comes grading and shaping the skidder haul roads, then the salvage work, cleaning up downed trees that were left behind, or blown over by the storms and thinning as I go. My goal is to be able to drive around all the roads on my tractor to harvest firewood and forest products so I can offset the taxes and recover fuel costs and other associated costs of forest management. I will be managing on a tree by tree basis, where I will evaluate what will be cut and what will be left based on future use. The few sugar maples I have will be managed for maple sugar production in the future. I will open up around them by thinning and doing improvement cuts so they branch out and develop a full spreading crown. They may not make good saw logs but the added branching will produce maple sap for sugar production in the future. Existing openings will be managed for early successional habitat and browse for deer. Wild apple trees will be planted and in time crab apples will provide grouse some chow.
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at email@example.com.