Posted by Jim Griffith
Registered Forester #1616
The rains in Maine we have been experiencing are like a double edged sword. They keep timber logging out of the woods and therefore truckloads of wood from the mill. The mills run low on wood and prices go up. This is a good thing for landowners. On the flip side, to get the high wood prices due to wet weather, loggers have to be able to operate on your property during wet conditions. This might not be a good thing for landowners.
Operating under rainy and wet conditions can result in ground that is more conducive to rutting. Rutting can not only be unsightly but can affect soil quality and productivity for future growth. Some soils are well drained and even under heavy rain will hold up under heavy equipment operating such as logging without experiencing any damage to the land.
Other soils, including some apparent high and dry hillsides, following extensive rains hold soil moisture and are exceptionally susceptible to soil structure damage. I have seen high and what I thought was sandy hills hold moisture just below the surface, and when equipment was unloaded to work on the seemingly dry site, it immediately bogged down creating ruts on the land.
For this reason, a wet weather clause in your timber contract in Maine is important. This is simply a statement included in your timber deed that allows you or your representative forester to stop the logging crew when the ground is being rutted during rainy and wet ground conditions. The exercise of this clause during the term of the agreement can stop the loggers until the ground dries out, protecting your property, but it also enacts an extension clause that allows the buyer to generally add an extra six months to the term of the sale.
It is costly for a logger to shut down his operation for a matter of days waiting on the ground to dry out. The alternative would be to move off the wet property to a drier ground tract in order to remain productive, which is costly as well to pick up all that big equipment and move to another location. For this reason, a logger might not want to stop or move his equipment during wet weather conditions, so it may take more than a suggestion to stop the operation.
Without a wet weather clause in a timber sale agreement, dealing with rainy and rutting conditions in Maine might be more difficult than it should be. A professional forester will know to include this clause in the timber deed, as well as other important clauses that will help protect you, your property, and outline ways to handle other issues that might arise during the logging of your property.