Timber Sale Guidelines

timber sales

The term "timber sale" is used to refer to any significant harvest of wood products involving an exchange of monies. Timber sales may involve sales of trees used to make lumber (sawtimber), fuelwood, whole tree chips, pulp, or any combination of these products.

A decision to harvest timber is a very critical one and should be handled as a business venture. Timber sales often culminate 50 or more years of investment in the form of taxes and management costs and have immediate and long­lasting effects on the future of all of the natural resources and amenities. Proper harvesting can provide multiple benefits: income, improved wildlife habitat, recreational access, views, and healthy and vigorous forests. Uncontrolled, exploitive cutting reduces such values, leads to environmental degradation, public resentment and legal entanglements. Your motives for selling timber should be based on informed decisions with a foundation of good stewardship of your forest and its related resources.

Before You Decide to Sell Timber

The following questions should be considered BEFORE selling timber. If you can't answer these questions or if you respond negatively to them, you will benefit a great deal by seeking professional assistance before initiating a timber sale. · Have you identified your long­term management objectives such as income, wildlife habitat, recreation, and aesthetics?

  • Have you developed a plan to achieve your objectives?
  • Have you identified your objectives for this sale?
  • What harvest method is best suited to meet your objectives?
  • What affect will a harvest of this type have on your forest and its related resources?
  • Do you know what your forest will look like following a harvest?
  • Will the harvest leave an improved stand for increased value growth? · Have you consulted with all parties having legal interest in your land (co­owners, mortgagees, banks, etc.)? · What laws relate to timber harvesting on your land?
  • What products are saleable from your land (whole tree chips, fuelwood, pulpwood, boltwood, sawlogs, veneer)?
  • What is the anticipated volume to be harvested?
  • What is your timber worth by species, product and quality?
  • How will you be paid?
  • Do you know how stumpage values are determined?
  • Are your boundaries clearly identified?
  • Have you identified sensitive areas on your land? 
  • Who is a reliable logging contractor?
  • Are you familiar with timber harvesting insurance regulations and your liability?
  • Are you familiar with preparation of a timber sale agreement?
  • Who is responsible for payment of the NH Yield Tax?
  • Will there be adequate supervision of the harvest?
  • Do you have the information you need regarding federal tax treatment of timber income?

Who Can Help?

Unfortunately, many people proceed with timber sales without a clear understanding of the process and without getting professional forest management advice and guidance in advance. Assistance is available to landowners from both the public and private sectors. UNH Cooperative Extension foresters in each county are available at no charge to assist with a preliminary assessment of the situation and provide information and educational assistance to help guide landowners through the timber sale process. This may include helping to identify landowner harvest objectives and motives, and perhaps examining the property. This will help match individual harvest objectives with the resource needs and capabilities. Since their role is educational, Extension foresters have limitations on the time and effort that can be expended. They will often recommend retaining the services of a private licensed forester to assist owners with the administration of a timber sale.

Private licensed foresters assist with timber sales in a number of ways. They can, depending on your goals:

  • identify property and sale boundary areas
  • mark the trees to be cut
  • estimate products, volumes and value of marked trees
  • lay out skid trails, landings and wetland crossings
  • advertise for and receive bids on your behalf
  • take care of permit requirements (intent­to­cut, etc.)
  • locate a reputable logging contractor
  • negotiate fair stumpage values with the logging contractor
  • prepare a written contract between you and the buyer
  • obtain down payments and performance bonds for you
  • supervise the logging operation
  • assist with tax reporting

Timber harvests conducted under the supervision of licensed foresters are much more likely to achieve your management goals, will often generate higher stumpage prices than those achieved through direct negotiations with logging contractors, and will leave an improved forest poised for additional management. Increased revenue and better attainment of landowner management goals are benefits that outweigh costs associated with the assistance of a licensed forester in timber sale administration. Consulting fees for timber sale administration depend on the extent of service and the value of products being sold. Tree marking fees and commissions based on gross receipts of timber sales are common timber sale related, billing procedures.

Why Do You Want To Harvest?

Perhaps the first step in a well ordered timber sale project is to consider what your management goals are and begin to develop priorities based on them. You may have been approached by timber buyers or logging contractors, or perhaps you feel pressured by a need for money. Avoid hasty decisions and take time to think through why you want to harvest and get objective non­biased assistance so you can make informed choices on how to proceed.

Consider what you hope to accomplish by having a timber sale. Keep in mind compromises are likely if objectives conflict. Your objectives might include any combination of or all of the following:

  • forest improvement
  • access and recreational improvement
  • wildlife habitat improvement
  • land conversion for other uses
  • maximum income
  • tax considerations
  • increased earning power and future value growth

Download the Resource for the complete fact sheet and a printable version.