Managing Timber In West Virginia

"What he didn't cut down, he tore down and what he didn't tear down, he rode down. It looks just like a bomb went off and I'm just sick over the whole thing." This was an actual quote from a WV landowner who did not take the time to educate himself on how a responsible timber harvest should be conducted. Managing timber looks pretty straight forward but many complex factors come into play once the process begins.

Just like the flowers or vegetables in your garden, the trees in West Virgina's forests are constantly growing. Forestland owners can help keep their forest healthy with periodic thinnings. Besides producing income, a well planned timber harvest can improve wildlife habitat. Trails used to remove the trees can later be used for hiking or horseback riding.

Let's now take a look at what goes into managing your woodlands with the timber harvest serving as the cornerstone.



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The first step is very simple. Just think about all the wonderful values your forest provides and how you want to manage for them. These include timber income, wildlife habitat, clean air, pure water and also recreational opportunities. Registered professional foresters, can help you make sound decisions concerning your forest.



Once you decide how you want to manage your property, foresters then identify and mark the property lines. They should try to meet with your neighbors and let them know the lines have been marked and answer any questions they may have regarding the timber harvest process (starting and finishing the sale, traffic, noise, environmental concerns and so on).



After the property lines are marked, registered professional foresters begin "cruising" the timber. This step identifies the trees to be harvested. One forester measures the diameter of the tree at breast height (dbh) as the other forester determines the grade and number of logs in the tree. The tree is then recorded in a handheld computer by species, grade and size. This tree was marked with blue paint to let the timber cutter know it is to be harvested. The foresters also mark trees which may need special attention that will not be harvested, such as wildlife den trees or trees in sensitive areas near streams or wetlands.