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Finding a Forester : River Valley edition : Tuesday, 25 February 2020 01:56 EST : a service of The Public Press
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Finding a Forester

     by Stephen Morris

When you have some names, make some calls. Get a sense of the forester's working style and areas of expertise.

They don't all know the same things: some are particularly interested in habitat improvement; some specialize in managing sugarbushes. If one sounds like a good match, make an appointment to get together. Most (not all) foresters will go for a woods walk free of charge.

Ask any potential forester for references. Get the names of three people the consultant has worked for in the last year. Talk to those landowners and ask if you can visit their woods.

Go for the walk. Look around. Taking Brian Stone's analogy of the dentist one step further, you can at least partly judge a dentist's or a forester's work by what they leave behind. Are the trees healthy and straight or do they look like corkscrews? And while you may not be capable of evaluating the silviculture, you can get a sense of how careful the work was. Would you want your woods to look like this?quiet zone

Most consulting foresters charge for their services in one of two ways: either they charge an hourly rate (most often it is between $30 and $60 an hour) plus expenses; or they take a percentage of the proceeds of the timber sale. The percentage will range from 10 to 50 percent; if the logs are bringing high prices, the percentage should be lower than if the logs are of poor quality. Charging a percentage is frowned on by some foresters, including Brian Stone. He said, "The theory is that with a high set of standards, someone won't consciously improve the condition of their wallet by making choices that are against the interests of the landowner. My opinion is that a percentage makes a forester want to cut more."

Some foresters, Ross Morgan included, offer their clients a choice between the two methods. There ultimately won't be much of a difference in the total bill, regardless of which way the services are tallied. Another variation is that some foresters find it convenient to bill for management plans on a per acre basis.

Stephen Long is one of the founding editors of Northern Woodlands magazine, where this story originally appeared. It is reprinted here with permission. For subscription information, call 800 290-5232 or visit www.northernwoodlands.org

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