A Well-Managed Forest

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Published on: Mar. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 8, 2010

When should a landowner seek professional help? A good time is before conducting a timber harvest.

Your neighbor, the one who is an expert on everything from colicky horses to hot stock tips, drops over for a visit. He says he heard you've been wondering about how to manage the woods on your property. It just so happens that he recently harvested the timber on his place. Now that he's become an expert on that subject, too, he wants to help you. Never mind that his woods look like they just experienced a live fire training exercise by the First Armored Division. You politely listen to his advice, but you know there has to be a better way.

So, you do some reading. You learn that Missouri has 14 million acres of forest land, of which 85 percent is owned by 300,000 private landowners like yourself. You and the other landowners help supply 5 million Missourians with lumber, wood chemicals, paper, charcoal and railroad ties.

You also learn that in a year, each Missourian uses 75 cubic feet of wood products for a yearly total of 375 million cubic feet. Out of that total, 100 million feet is converted to wood chips and pulp for paper. Furthermore, Missourians obtain two-thirds of their wood products from other regions of the U.S. Some of our wood products are imported from foreign countries where there are virtually no environmental safeguards. It soon becomes clear that sound forestry is a global issue that requires us to act locally.

Now you have even more questions, so you ask around. It doesn't take long to discover that the best source of information for managing your private woodlands is the Missouri Department of Conservation, especially those staff members trained to assist with forestry needs.

First, the MDC contact will visit with you and ask what you want from your forest. Is your priority wildlife or recreation? Do you want to manage for periodic income, or do you have several objectives? Have you considered your tax base or estate planning? If needed, your MDC contact will refer you to a specialist.

The Missouri Consulting Foresters Association is one resource. For a fee, the MCFA will provide many valuable services, such as determining cost basis, appraising your forest resources and providing forest management advice. The fee you pay is usually money well spent.

Your MDC contact might be a private land conservationist (PLC) or resource forester. PLCs

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