Protecting Your Woodlot Against Tree Poaching
From Contributor Q:
The forester you hire should have your best interest as the number one priority. Some states offer programs for small woodland owners. Your local DNR office can help you find a good consultant forester. Foresters from sawmills usually don't have your best interest in mind. They are looking for the best wood at the least expensive price. I worked for a small woodlands owner who was offered $20,000 from a local sawmill for the logs on his property. He thought that was a lot of money for his wood but after a cruise on the land there was almost twice that in log value. He was glad he hired a consultant to take a look at the wood. I have worked on a few trespasses and most states allow triple value of the stolen wood. However when you have a tree that is 20 years old that is being cut at 40 you have to discount the value of the 20 year old tree to the point the tree was trespassed and there isn't much value left unless you have veneer grade cherry trees on your land.
From contributor Y:
It has been my experience that your neighbors are not likely to steal your timber, but rogue loggers might. If one of your neighbors ever have his/her timber logged, then your timber is at a higher risk by the logger cutting over the line (accidentally or intentionally). Also, if the wrong person finds that you live a long way off, then they may try to steal your timber. Marking your boundary lines gives you some legal ground to stand on, should someone steal your timber. If your lines aren't already marked (by a fenceline, creek, ditch or rockpile, etc.), you may need a surveyor or consulting forester to help you make sure you mark them correctly. You would need to check with that state's laws concerning marking boundary lines, to make sure that you mark them up to standards. Also, finding a friendly neighbor is your best method for protecting your forest - if you aren't opposed to hunting/fishing, you may consider giving permission to a local sportsman in exchange for them keeping an eye on your place.
From contributor J:
Good points all. I'll add that you probably have more to fear from neighbors cutting firewood than any large scale timber rustler. I found that involving the state police in even the slightest theft of timber or trespass sends notice to all around that you are vigilant and won't look the other way. One other note, if you give permission to hunters make it clear to them about your rules regarding tree stands. I've had trespassing hunters damage large trees with stands and steps, and cut small trees to clear shooting lanes, all without permission.
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