Because women live longer than men, they often end up inheriting a lot of family woodlands. If over the lifetime of ownership they paid little attention to the management of the woodlands, they may feel “lost in the woods” when they suddenly inherit the responsibility of managing the family timber.
You may be surprised to know that in 2010 more than 65 percent or 107,600 acres of all the land in Lee County is considered timberland. Of this acreage, 95 percent is privately owned, and the county or municipal governments manage the remaining 5 percent. Well over half of the timberland in our county is considered being of high quality trees. Data from 2008 reported stumpage value of timber in Lee County at $4,825,039. Stumpage is the actual price paid to the timber owner for standing timber.
A tidy profit can be made off of your timber if it has been well managed and you seek out the advice of area professionals, such as forestry consultants, before selling. Since trees grow slowly, you will probably only have one or two times in your lifetime to sell your timber. Most individuals are not skilled in the process of selling timber and as a result have no concept on how much their timber is worth. We often hear stories from landowners who “just got enough money to pay the taxes.”
Selling timber can be confusing, frustrating and disappointing. Landowners rarely know the value of their trees, and because of this, they need to know what they have and how to sell it. If you are not familiar with the selling process, you could be taken advantage of and end up almost giving your timber away. In this case, “let the seller beware,” learning from a bad experience can be very expensive!
Most landowners fail to manage their forest for maximum timber production. The landowner often overlooks other areas of forest management such as wildlife habitat, soil and water conservation, recreation and aesthetics. In addition, they are often unaware of government cost-share programs, tax laws affecting forestry and methods to market timber.
As a landowner managing your forest land, you are charged to help protect, restore and sustain water quality, water flows and watershed health. Forests can contribute to efforts for managing carbon dioxide emissions and may play a key role in the future with proposed ecosystem-services markets. The utility of forests and forest products in nontimber and emerging markets, such as biomass and ecosystem services, is crucial to the continued profitability of forest products.
To help you gather the facts, North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County will present “Are You Lost In The Woods?” — an educational program designed to help women successfully manage and market their timber. Of course, men are also invited to attend the program, which will be held on Thursday, March 27, at 3 p.m. and repeated at 7 p.m. The workshops will be held at the Lee County Farm Bureau Auditorium at the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center.
Forestry Extension Specialists from N.C. State University and other professionals in this area will be on hand to present this workshop, and participants will learn to improve forestland management to assure maximization of income generation and to enhance the health of their forestland. Focusing on the value of timber as a resource, the presenters will share information on resources available to manage your timber in order to receive top dollars when it’s time to sell, estate implications, income tax considerations, present use value, financial assistance for reforestation, property rights and other details related to timber marketing and management.
Properly managed timber can provide good financial returns for you and your family. By doing your homework, you can make your next (or first) timber sale both a pleasant and profitable experience. Remember that a single sale may be your only chance to cash in on the many years of annual income accumulated in a mature timber stand. There are questions you should ask and answers you should know and being “lost in the woods” is just not the place to start. For additional information on selling your timber or to attend the program, contact the North Carolina Cooperative Extension at 775-5624.
Susan Condlin is County Extension Director for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.