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Accurate records crucial to keeping track of timber harvest in Maine

By Jim Griffith
Registered Forester #1616

With a large percentage of timber purchases in Maine, the buyer pays for the timber after the trees have been cut on your property. This type of sale is known by several names: cut-and-haul, pay-as-cut, or per-unit sale. The trees are taken to a staging point, a local woodyard or mill, or kept on the property and either measured or weighed and then transported off site. Once unloaded at the mill, those logs enter the mill’s inventory. Most all trees are either sold today by the ton or by the board foot. Trees sold by the ton are weighed, while trees sold by the board foot are measured. If the trees are weighed there is a scale ticket given to the truck driver for each load of wood delivered to the yard. If the trees are sold by the board foot, there should be a ticket for the load and also some sort of account for each individual log. Whoever buys the wood should keep multiple copies of the transaction for their own records.

It is these records that are used to keep up with the amount of trees removed from your property. Good loggers keep an independent record of each load or log (if it’s high priced hardwood) that leaves the woods. A crew member, like the loader-operator, will have a notebook or a timber security app, and enter the date, landowner name, truck number, driver, type load (pulpwood, sawtimber, palletwood, veneer, standard, prime, etc.), the destination of the truck (the woodyard or mill where the trees are being delivered) and maybe even the time of departure from the woods. This information is then checked against the scale tickets given to the truck drivers as well as the copy of the load/log tags delivered to the timber buyer/dealer directly from the woodyard/mill. This is a good check to make sure your trees get to the appropriate destination.

Having multiple records of your tree’s delivery to the mill makes it much more difficult to lose a load or log along the way. This way, if someone is deliberately planning to take your wood, there has to be multiple people involved in the process in order to make all the records match. You, as the landowner, still have to be actively engaged in the process to hold everyone involved accountable. You can request copies of the scaled tickets from the mill along with a weekly summary from the dealer and a copy of a load report from the woods. From this report you can match up every load cut from your property with its final destination and then check that the dealer writes your check for the appropriate amount at the end of each week.They should all match.

There may be some times where the truck left the woods late in the day and did not make it to the woodyard until the next day and will thereby be on the following week’s report even though it left the woods the day before. However, it should all match up in the end. Make sure if individual trailer loads of wood are left on the loading site after all the equipment is gone and time passes before they are actually pulled to the mill, that you keep up with when they were pulled, when and where they were delivered and that you actually get paid for the wood. It is not the norm for a logger or timber dealer to deliberately take a load of wood and not pay the landowner. But with the high number of truck loads of trees in Maine that most dealers deliver to a woodyard during a week’s time, and the fact that many dealers have several crews cutting on different tracts at the same time, and that they might switch truck drivers and trailers between jobs on different sites, it is possible for some confusion to occur, an honest mistake. It is for those times that you, the landowner in Maine, need to be actively involved in the process.

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