Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why Do Folks Prescribe Burn their Forest?

I wrote about this topic earlier, but I have seen lots of burning going on. Lots of smoke out's that time of the year again!  I decided to repost. Prescribed burning is one of the most effective and cheapest tool available to the land owner. Thanks to “Smokey The Bear” many have shied away from the practice. Therefore I decided to address this important topic.

Let’s start with a definition -  "Prescribed" burning is defined  as fire applied in a knowledgeable manner to forest fuels on a specific land area under selected weather conditions to accomplish predetermined, well-defined management objectives.

Reasons We Burn - Just as with natural and human-ignited fires in the past, prescribed burning today accomplishes many important ecological functions and landowner objectives.

Reduction of Hazardous Fuels - Prescribed burning removes accumulated fuels and therefore the risk of intense fires. Arson, human carelessness, and lightning will inevitably ignite fires in many states across the nation. The rate of spread and damage caused by the resulting fires are directly related to fuel types and volumes. Fire intensity is much lower in grasses and small shrubs than in a 10-year-old growth of saw palmetto and wax myrtle. Manu fuels have high levels of resins. Prescribed burning must be repeated at regular intervals to maintain the protective effect of reduced vegetative fuels. In the long growing seasons of the Southeast, it takes only four to five years for fuels to return to hazardous levels. 
Altering Vegetative Communities - Many public agencies and some private landowners conduct prescribed burns to restore or improve natural forest conditions. Longleaf pine forests are commonly burned, but so are ecosystems as diverse as sandhill scrub and wet sawgrass or pondcypress prairies. In these natural forests, burning promotes seed germination, flowering, or resprouting of fire-adapted native plants and generally improves wildlife habitat.
Prescribed burning also changes the composition and density of existing vegetation. In forestry operations, fire at three- to five-year intervals reduces competing vegetation under forest stands over 10 years old. In pasture and range systems, fire is used at two- to three-year intervals to reduce encroachment of shrubs and invasive exotic weeds. 

Improving Wildlife and Livestock Habitat - Regular burning of rangelands and understory plants improves forage quality and quantity for wildlife and livestock. New shrub, herb, and grass sprouts capture the quick flush of nutrients into the soil after a fire and are often more nutritious and palatable than older plants. Fires promote flower, seed, and fruit production, thus increasing available nuts and fruits for wildlife. Insects also increase rapidly after most fires. Burning different areas at different intervals and in different seasons produces a diversity of landscapes, animal food, and cover sources. Prescribed fire intervals of two to four years are generally used to promote this diversity.
Controlling Pest Problems - Prescribed burning has been used to control several different pest problems:
·         needle disease on longleaf pine seedlings;
·         bark beetles in infested trees that are cut and piled;
·         root rot fungi;
·         spittle bugs in pastures; and
·         ticks and red bugs (chiggers).
Improving Access - By reducing dead fuels, harvest residues, and dense understory shrubs, prescribed fires can increase:
·         openings for tree planting or natural regeneration;
·         visibility within a stand for recreation or hunting;
·         openings for wildlife feeding, travel, and display;
·         access for hiking and other recreational activities.
In summary…Prescribe Burning is a cheap tool to keep your forest healthy, improve aesthetic value and decrease the potential for a very destructive wildfire !

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at      (706) 457-0090


Saturday, January 5, 2013

What Questions Should I Ask My Realtor When Buying Timberland?

When buying a recreational property, a good deal of the value could be in the standing timber. As a buyer you need to understand what you are buying such as type of timber (products), how much timber and value of the timber. If you are working with an agent, hopefully that agent can add value to your decision making process. With that in mind, here are several questions that recreational buyers should ask when they are learning about the timber on a recreational property:
Question: Does my agent understand timberland and the markets for timber?
Answer: If your agent doesn’t have experience understanding and explaining timber values, the agent should bring someone in to help who has that knowledge. Make sure your decision is based on accurate information. Otherwise, you may not pay an appropriate price. Make sure the valuation of the timber on a property is directly related to your property of interest. No two tracts are identical. 

Question: How can I have confidence in what I am buying from a timber perspective?
Answer: If the timber component of the property is a major reason for your purchase, it’s a good idea to be comfortable with the timber inventory on the property. Confidence comes from having a complete forest inventory, which will give estimates of acres in each timber stand, such as a 10-year-old pine plantation, 28-year-old pine plantation, streamside management zones, non-forested areas such as ponds, etc. The information should provide volumes by product classification such as pulpwood, sawtimber etc. Sometimes only a forest inventory or “timber cruise” is available and that is OK. Besides you will need these volumes and prices when doing cost allocation on the property. I wrote about this topic in an earlier blog… 

Question: How do I get a handle on how I might want to manage the property from a timber perspective?
Answer: To begin with you as the landowner must determine your objectives. Are you most interested in wildlife habitat, aesthetics or timber production.  A knowledgeable agent should be familiar with forest management practices and can get you in touch with a forestry management professional, such as an Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF) forester or a Registered Forester. To begin with you as the landowner must determine your objectives.  Based on your answers a forest management practitioner can help you outline a plan. Bare in mind, all these uses work very well together. For instance if you are interested in wildlife habitat, you might leave very large streamside management zones when planning a timber harvest.

Question: How can I figure out if I can expect to get cash flow from timber on a property?
Answer: It’s important to have quantifiable, realistic information and goals in regards to potential timber cash flows. This ties into setting your overall goals for the property. Planted pines are easy to cash flow. Your forester knows when each stand needs to be thinned and can determine approximate revenues.

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at                          (706) 457-0090