copyright and disclaimer information

A Michigan forester dedicated to forest conservation while practicing Michigan forestry
 

Michigan timber management &
the conservation of
Michigan natural resources
is a specialty of
Timberline Forestry Consulting LLC
 

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 and the continuity of vibrant, healthy forests. I have personally inspected forests across most of the U.S. and beyond.  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.
 
Want to see examples of the kind of top quality Michigan
forestry management that Timberline Forestry Consulting LLC conducts? We have both Michigan Red pine timber harvest and Michigan Northern hardwood timber harvest videos, plus an entire picture gallery taken afield during our careful woodland management operations in Michigan and other locations.  

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 been supportive in meeting 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 LakeshoreUSDA 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 implement policy to support good stewardship of our great forests in between the greatest lakes on Earth.  Michigan property tax through the various forest management plan programs are an economic asset.  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
 Timberline Forestry Consulting LLC a successful Michigan small business:
Note: if your company is a client and you would like your name included, please
contact me and I will add you!

Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Michigan 4H Kettunen Center
Mid-Forest Lodge & Eco-Land Management LLC
Dart Oil
The law firm of McCurdy, Wotila & Porteous
The law firm of Garan, Lucow, Miller
The law firm of Plunkett Cooney
Mark DuBay, Attorney at law
Secura Insurance Company
Ward Lake Energy Company
Ritter Appraisals & United States Department of Interior Land acquisition services
Saint Paul Insurance Company

PRIVATE CLIENTS: A HUGE *THANK YOU!* for your support!  I could not offer these forestry services without your interest, but do not include your personal information on the site as I always respect your privacy as an unwritten tenant of our agreements. 

 

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 availability was on at the time, so accuracy of the units was +/- 100 meters horizontally (compared to 15m 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.

PROJECT EXAMPLES

1. C80

(Compartment 80) was a Michigan DNR timber sale preparation project in May of 2001 involving approximately 234 acres in Missaukee County, Michigan. This is on the Northwest side of the Dead Stream Swamp, one of Michigan’s most notoriously wild places with high populations of bears, very dense fir and alder thickets, as well as infestations of black fly, mosquito and deer fly populations. Much of the area was so wet and hummocky, it required hip waders to do the job.  It is one of Michigan’s most secluded places in that it is mostly without interior roads.

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.

The specifications of the bid solicitation were 4 pages and the contract specifications were 12 pages long
This project required me to prepare (5) separate commercial timber sales.  On each of the timber sales I had to complete the following tasks:

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).
2. Paint timber sale boundary lines colors to various specifications using department supplied paint.
3. Determine the area of each timber sale unit (25 different units) with a Trimble GPS.
4. Save the GPS rover files onto a 3.5” floppy disc (remember those?) and submit to the department.
5. Mark the timber of each sale based on specification (each sale had different marking specifications based on tree species, density of trees to leave or harvest, tree color paint used and what symbols were to be applied.
6. Cruise the timber using Bitterlich-style point sampling using 1 point per acre throughout the units, using the Carlson tally (# of sticks, # of trees per species).
7. Enter cruise data in the MDNR’s timber sale computer and save data to a 3.5” floppy disc.
8. Deliver maps showing cruise points, deliver GPS data and cruise data, and deliver an accounting of the paint used to mark boundaries and timber. 

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.

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2. A Southern Michigan timber trespass (all parties referred to as variables to protect privacy)

During March of 2006, I was contacted by an attorney at law representing insurance company “A” because landowner “B” had noticed that their wood lot had been harvested without their knowledge and “A” supplied coverage to one or more of the parties involved.  Upon having received a signed agreement with the insurance company and a retainer for my services, I traveled 3 hours by motor vehicle to Southern Michigan and met with the claims representative of “A” to inspect the site along with landowner “B”’s attorney, who had previously hired another Michigan forestry consultant firm to inspect, tally and document the damage. 

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.
B. The cost for those trees using current stumpage value prices for the 202 trees was
$17,382.86
C. Three of the trees listed on the other consultant’s report as “unidentified” were in fact identifiable (to me) as Sassafras albidum.
D. Four of the trees listed on the other consultant’s report were listed as Northern red oak, but in fact were clearly Bigtooth aspen (a lower valued species).
E. One of the trees listed on the other consultant’s report wasn’t a tree at all, but rather a slice of another tree (also counted by the other consultant) that had been tossed aside by the logger and appeared as a stump to the other consultant (note: this was the true gem of the project for me).
F. Cleanup costs in the other consultant’s report were based on an estimate made out of thin air ($2200.00/acre x 25 acres), or $55,000.00 to skid and grind the tops (there was no contractor estimate provided with the report, nor other evidence supporting the figure), despite the fact that the area affected was only 20 acres of the wooded 24 acres of the overall ~53 acre parcel.
G. I was able to obtain an estimate from a local logger who resided in the same township where the incident occurred. His estimate was $15,000.00 to clean up the remnants left on the parcel, and the written estimate was attached to my report
H. The other consultant used inappropriate methods in his timber prices, including estimating veneer quality lumber based on solely “stump height from the ground”.  His theory was that trees cut lower to the ground had at least one log (16’) of veneer quality timber in them  (Note for those not familiar with timber or forestry: It is not possible to estimate the veneer in any section of the tree unless that section is present).

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 $. 

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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 trees grew into a overstocked condition. 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 $45/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 a 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:

1. $4500.00
2. $5460.00
3. $7561.00
4. $9150.00
 and the winning bid of
5. $12,000.00

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!

This is but one example of why I will continually state that the only limit to “top dollar” is what the market will provide.

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.
 

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