Hiring a Logger

Your woodland is a considerable financial investment.  It is also priceless as a source of personal enjoyment and satisfaction. A poor logging job can destroy years of growth and health in days and compromise the future health of your forest for many years. Forestry lore is replete with horror stories of loggers that cut more trees than the landowner intended, left the woods in a mess, caused irreparable damage to healthy trees, or underpaid a landowner for the timber.

But there are also good loggers, experts who care for the health of your woods. Your job as a landowner is to invest the necessary time and resources into finding the right logger for your logging job. Take the following precautions:

  • Go by word of mouth: Ask your forester or the School of Forestry at your local university to refer a logger. Or ask your fellow woodland owners.
  • Check Qualifications: Unfortunately there are no mandated standards for loggers, but it may be useful to check on each candidate's educational qualifications and if they have attended any professional trainings with state agencies, local vocational or technical colleges, or industry associations. If your state has a logger certification or accreditation program, be sure to work with a logger that meets those criteria.
  • Check References: Talk with landowners who have recently had a timber harvest with the logger you're considering--specifically ask about the condition of the trees that were not harvested and the condition of the surrounding land and soil.  Consider visiting a site that the logger has previously harvested.
  • Insurance/Liability: Request copies of certificates of insurance. These may include: General liability and completed operations, auto liability for log truckers, workers' compensation (only required if the logger has employees). If your contractor doesn't have insurance, you could be held personally liable for any accidents on your property.
  • Multiple Bids: Get at least three bids based on a clear scope of work. The biggest mistake that woodland owners make is to give a logging contract to the first logger that walks up to their door and offers to cut "mature" trees for a certain price. You will be much better off if you clearly mark the trees to be cut (with the help of a forester) and get clear, written bids from three local loggers.
  • Negotiate Prices: Check stumpage prices (the price offered by a logger for your trees as they stand in the forest) offered for your timber with published sources, or call local mills directly for the most up-to-date market prices. Delivered prices offered by the mill are significantly higher than stumpage prices, which are influenced by many factors such as accessibility, timber quality, road distances, market demand, sale volume, species, etc.. Keep this in mind when seeking a reasonable price for your timber. When in doubt, contact your local county cooperative extension forestry educator.
  • Sign a Contract: Once you have chosen a logger, develop a contract that clearly lays out what the logger will do (i.e. which trees he/she will cut, what clean-up will be required, how damage from heavy equipment will be minimized, etc.) and what he/she will be paid.
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