At this time of year in Ohio “the season” could mean a dozen different things, but in this case, I’m talking about timber harvest season. Now, there’s no question that logging can take place at any time of year, but winter can be ideal in the Midwest for a number of reasons. A great deal of a tree’s food energy and important nutrients are stored in the roots during winter dormancy and will remain with the soil once the tree has been harvested. Bark tightens during periods of low temperatures and becomes more resistant to injury, so the incidental “skinning” of non-harvested trees by logging equipment becomes less of an issue—and the insects that might exploit such an injury are dormant as well. Most importantly, in terms of the on-going health of the woodlot, is that the impact of heavy equipment can be kept to a minimum when moving across frozen or snow-packed ground. Soil compaction, rutting and root damage from logging activities on “soft” ground carry serious consequences that can affect the health and growth of remaining trees for years.
Forrest products are a valuable, renewable resource and a well-planned harvest can benefit not only the landowner, but the woodlot itself. There are several important issues that a property owner must carefully consider as he or she prepares to market timber, however. Fortunately, a well-defined set of “Best Management Practices” serves as a guide to landowners, loggers and consulting foresters. Following these “BMPs” will not only protect forest soils from erosion and surface water from soil sediment during and after logging operations, but can also help to ensure the health of the woodlot going forward. When properly planned and implemented, these same BMPs can keep both logger and landowner from running afoul of Ohio’s Forestry Pollution Abatement Rules and Standards.
The first step in any timber sale should be the creation of a Timber Harvest Plan that places on paper the location of skid roads, log landings, haul roads, stream crossings and water bars. The plan will also make clear the expectations and obligations of loggers and landowners alike. Use of a consulting forester can be a fantastic investment in this process. Please contact your county’s Soil and Water Conservation District office for a Timber Harvest Plan form and advice on beginning the planning process. We’ll be happy to help you make the most of your woodland investment!
John Lorson came to Holmes SWCD after leaving a career in higher education quite literally for greener pastures. He holds a BS in Biology from The University of Akron where he later worked for ten years—most recently as coordinator of the The University of Akron Millersburg campus. Prior to that he spent 15 years as an engineering technician with the City of Orrville, dealing with storm water, infrastructure and planning issues. John can assist with conservation planning for your farm, rural property or woodlot. He also deals with storm water management issues, and investigates pollution complaints. Reach John with your conservation concerns at 330-674-2811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org