Posted by Jim Griffith
Registered Forester #1616
“I don’t like thinning timber,” was the comment on the other end of the phone line in a recent conversation. As a timber manager, I know thinning is a routine tool to improve a timber owner’s property, and it should be a part of every timber owner’s long-term management plan. So this statement concerned me, until I visited the property of concern.
Upon walking over this particular timber owner’s property, I began to understand the source of his concern about thinning. His property had been hacked up during the process of a first thinning. It appears that the logger hired to thin his property was not doing a sufficient job of selecting the right trees and the correct number of trees to be left on the property as future crop trees. He did not use a top rated logger. So the landowner stopped the thinning operation (wise move) and hired someone to mark the crop trees to be left.
However, the person hired to mark the leave trees marked a lot of diseased and deformed trees allowing many of the better-quality, future, crop-trees to be cut and removed from the land. Neither was there optimal spacing left between the remaining trees. There was a hodgepodge of tree clumps with varying quality and unnecessary openings all over the property. It was a mess that could’ve been avoided, had he used a top rated logger.
At this point, I began to understand the man’s statement of “I don’t like thinning my timber.” And now that I think of it, I remember a 600-acre tract of planted pine that needed thinning desperately but the landowner had a similar comment, “I am not thinning and letting those loggers ruin my timber.” And another landowner saying “I have tried thinning, I think I am just going to let my timber grow until it’s time to clearcut.” They’re all saying they don’t like thinning, or are they?
Are they really saying they don’t like thinning? Or are they saying they don’t like the mess made by unqualified thinning loggers. And they don’t like the visual and financial cost to them of having these less than conscientious loggers thin their timber, hence the comment, “ruin my timber.”
I looked up the term conscientious. It means something done according to scruples, in a meticulous, careful, and painstaking manner. I suspect that if the thinning operations these same timber owners had observed or experienced first-hand had been conducted with top rated loggers running their operations in a meticulous, careful, and painstaking manner while specializing in select-cut thinning, they might have a different attitude regarding thinning and the loggers that conduct them.
Believe it or not, there are some very good thinning loggers in the Timber Update network. Although everyone in the business claims they can thin timber, and they often do, only a select few are worthy of being referred to as ‘conscientious’. It is important to note who the ‘conscientious’ loggers are before beginning your process of taking bids from thinning loggers. It may take some time to track them down, but better yet, you could just contact Timber Update and use one of their conscientious professionals to look after your best interest.
It is a never ending search for excellence in whatever we do, but locating the right forester and consequently the right thinning logger, you will end up with not only a select-cut harvest on your timber in which you are well pleased, but an improved stand of trees producing a greater value for the future; all because of your research efforts. Don’t allow yourself to be robbed of excellence because of the impression of a few.