Although Timberline Forestry Consulting’s service area is not geographically limited, this page is dedicated to examples of forestry management projects in Michigan.
There is a tremendous difference in who you hire to manage your property. The measurable difference is in the final outcome. I have personally inspected forests across most of the U.S. Sometimes I have toured these units with other foresters who have been very proud of their work - only to find an environment that shows signs of a catastrophic failure - obvious poor prescriptions, poorly formed trees retained, soil erosion and other problems leading to a negative result. I have a tendency to distance myself from these people as I realize their level of standards differ greatly from my own.
Other times, I have happened upon some areas and realize right away that they have been managed appropriately - there is good growing stock with appropriate spacing, species diversity is thriving and other indicators that “speak” good management. In some cases, I was able to find out who managed these forests and touch base with them to let them know I appreciate their work. These are the type of people I want in my circle of colleagues, because talk is cheap and hard evidence of solid work is what I value.
My clients’ forests are the among the most beautiful and productive forests found anywhere!
Since 2001, Timberline Forestry Consulting LLC has been successful in supporting long term sustainable goals in managing the natural resources appropriately. Many of these goals can be measured in forest & wildlife productivity and aesthetics. I take pride in my work and the difference is clear.
Would you like to tour Timberline Forestry managed woodlands ? Contact me!
Timberline Forestry Consulting LLC would like to thank all the private landowner clients who have supported us in our goals to maintain and even improve Michigan’s natural splendor since 2001. I would also like to thank all the quality logging contractors, loggers, and timber buyers in the state. The state of Michigan is VERY LUCKY to have such capable professionals! Thanks to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and its helpful employees, the U.S. Department of the Interior land acquisition services for their work in the preservation of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, USDA Forest Service APHIS and Michigan Department of Agriculture in their assistance with keeping up with the invasive species that always provide additional challenges to our work. We thank and support the Michigan legislature who continues to work hard so that forest landowners can reduce Michigan property tax through the various forest management plan programs and we thank the countless others in Michigan and beyond who support the Michigan forester in the relentless pursuit of maintaining the Michigan forest for all to enjoy the amazing breadth of goods and services it provides us with.
Here is a partial list of commercial clients we would like to personally thank for making
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
To give site visitors some idea of the type of work I have completed successfully, here are a few project examples from work I’ve done in Michigan:
A little background: My first forestry work experience was cruising timber on a warm sunny spring day in 1997 in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Weaverville, North Carolina. Sergeant Earl Rayburn Jr. (USMC -retired), a 30+ year veteran of the USFS and 10+ year veteran of private forestry was my mentor during that time while we worked for Canton Hardwood Company in Canton, NC. The Southern Appalachians are known as the pinnacle of dendrological diversity of the Eastern United States due to the combination of topography, latitudinal position and variation in elevation and micro climates. Needless to say, this was a fine place to learn a great deal about forests and forestry. This was of course during the time GPS technology was just getting popular for use in the consumer market. Selective ability was on at the time, so accuracy of the units was +/- 100 meters horizontally (compared to 15 or less now for a consumer grade unit). I bought my first GPS that summer. I started my career during a large transition of navigational technology. I started work in a hilly place using meets and bounds surveying system where I was measuring area with a complex combination of a compass, a clinometer, a hip chain and a computer program written in Basic developed for MSDOS based computers (Windows 3.1 was the P.C. operating system at that time).
Move forward 4 years after having completed my college education and gaining credible career experience. I was just out of college with no job lined up. Previously having worked for the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources during summer breaks when Michigan State University was out of session, I found an opportunity to work as a subcontractor for a consultant who was having difficulty finishing a job on time. I was on the ground and working within just a few weeks from graduation. This leads us to project #1, which was my first project as a private self-employed consultant.
The purpose of the project was to prepare the areas of timber for sale using specifications that would make sense on timber sale prospectuses sent to loggers and enforceable in contracts once performed.
1. Locate the timber sale boundaries on the ground using a timber sale preparation map (this is a simple hand drawn map showing roads, survey corners and vegetation - similar to a treasure map - a very basic map produced and updated by DNR personnel over the course of the years based on aerial photography - Google Earth did not yet exist).
This project was a milestone for me as it was a fairly complex project for my first one and I completed it alone within the period of the 30 day extension issued by the department due to the primary contractor not being able to meet the obligations of the original terms.
2. A Southern Michigan timber trespass (all parties referred to as variables to protect privacy)
I first conducted a quick walk through on the property to have a look at the area and trees that were cut. The stumps and tops of the trees were still present, but the saw log material (part of the tree that has the highest value) was removed from the site. There was some moderate rutting of the soils by the logging equipment where the soil was damp. I then left the site and had lunch with the claims representative. We talked about the event over lunch and it was explained to me that an adjacent landowner (”C”) had been offered $15,500 for 300 trees by a logger. Afterward, we had a meeting with “C” who claims he sold the 300 trees on his parcel, but that the logger who logged the parcel, logged “B”’s property instead. I made a note that the “timber sale contract” was nothing more than a handwritten piece of paper including the # of trees and the price - there were no terms, conditions, or specifications, just the minimum the law requires in terms of a contract.
After our meeting with “C”, I went back to “B”’s parcel. I was at the time of my investigation, privy to the other forestry consultants report that included a total damage of $72,229.00 to pay for damages to 171 trees (based on their count) and to clean up the tops and remaining wood of the felled trees remaining on the property that was illegally logged. It is important to understand that the 171 trees were valued at $15,088.70 and that the remainder ($57,140.00) of the funds was to clean up the tops under the forestry consultant’s supervision.
I started my investigation by mapping the parcel, mapping the wooded portion of the parcel, and then mapping the portion of the property where the damage had occurred. Then I randomly spot checked (12) of the trees written on the report for accuracy in the measurements and species listed on the report. Those measurements proved acceptable. I georeferenced these (12) sample trees with a GPS using an active external antenna for maximum accuracy so I could return to them later if needed. After having noticed several stumps that had not been marked nor counted by the other forestry consultants, I started conducting my own stump count by carefully following a systematic pattern across the wood lot, observing and tallying every tree I found that was noted on the report + marking and measuring every additional tree I found in the lot.
The result of my investigation of the incident and other consultant’s report revealed the following:
A. There were actually 202 trees cut total.
The result of this project was that I submitted a 5 page report carefully covering all necessary information. The report included a map, survey and parcel information, pictures of various incident discoveries and value that was supported with rational evidence. After having submitted my final report, I was notified that a civil case settlement had occurred between parties. I am not privy to the value of the settlement, but I am willing to bet it was a great deal less than $72k. My costs for the work were a mere pittance of the difference, and clients appreciate experts who save them money. I still like to wish it’s for my keen observation skills, attention to detail, wicked sense of humor and objectivity, but who am I kidding - it’s all about the $.
3. Absentee landowner small timber sale project
Usually, the rule of thumb for commercial timber sales is 10 acres or 100 cords minimum. A sale with 100 cords of timber on a 10 acre tract would be marginally commercial. So in the summer of 2009, when I was approached by a landowner to assist in the management of a 7 acre parcel stocked with plantation Red pine, I was somewhat concerned that I may be in for a challenge selling the sale. This was the second thinning of this Red pine stand that was approximately 60 years old. The trees had a 1/2 thinning of their total volume at age 40. This is a drastic thinning (a more conventional approach is 1/3 thinning at about 35 years), but after 20 years, the thinning didn’t leave the trees in too bad of shape. The crowns of most of the trees were suppressed more on 2 sides and less on the other two sides since every other row was cut. This left a small bit of room for the crowns to grow on 2 sides. The trees had a median diameter of about 14” and average height of 65’. The spacing was approximately 49 square feet per tree and minimal to average seedling mortality. After marking the timber sale boundaries and marking and tallying the timber based on an average residual area of 130 square feet per acre, favoring the finest specimens to retain and the poorest specimens to cut, the numbers resulted in 986 trees to be cut, with a total of 233 cords over 7 acres, I figured we could probably sell the timber sale. At the time, Red pine was selling for approximately $30/cord average. I expected the sale to go for about $5825 ($25/cord) because it was smaller than the average sale. It had good access and good location, but from a logging business standpoint, the highest cost in the business is logistics, or transporting materials and equipment. 233 cords is just not a great deal of timber to transport equipment for.
I sent the bid to approximately 20 potential Red pine buyers in the region.
This sale had 5 bids:
For the last 10 years I have witnessed dramatic bid price differences in numerous individual timber sales, and that has always been one positive aspect of a landowner hiring a consultant vs. trying to sell timber directly to a logger, but I have to say that this is the clear winner of all my timber sales, since even I did not believe it really had the potential to draw this kind of value!
The conclusion to this project was a landowner who was extremely happy with the financial and visual aspect of the sale after it was harvested in Summer of 2010. Unfortunately, I do not currently have any “before/after” pictures of this timber sale, but if anyone would like to go visit it with me, or if anyone would like a reference from this landowner, I’m sure I can provide either if requested.