Timber Industry Can Be Lucrative for Kansas Landowners

Forester advises Kansans to get bids before selling trees.

One Kansas crop can take 65 to 80 years to reach harvest size - often with little care other than giving it room to grow.

But, the time and acreage investment can be worth it if owners know how to organize a sale and when to seek assistance. This fall, for example, consulting forester Gary Naughton helped four woodland owners west of Emporia, Kan., make more than $73,000 in timber sales.

"That´s not unusual, which I suppose is why some timber owners tend to think of their forested property as a nest egg or an inheritance for their children," said Bob Atchison, coordinator of rural forestry programs for the Kansas Forest Service (KFS).

Each year in Kansas, more than 70 active sawmills process an estimate 21 million board feet of logs, creating "significant profits" for the mills, timber buyers and numerous woodlands owners, he said.

"This is a complex enough business that owners need to educate themselves on how to establish fair market value - before a timber buyer comes knocking on their door. They also need to learn how to conduct a harvest in a way that sustains the resource for themselves or future generations," Atchison said.

He recommends that owners with timber ready to cut and sell invite several buyers to bid on the potential harvest. The Kansas Forest Service maintains a list of Kansas timber buyers on the Web at www.kansasforests.org. That Web site also provides details on how to conduct a successful timber sale.

"The market is extremely volatile. Bids can vary by thousands of dollars," Atchison warned.

The forester also suggests timber sellers seek advice from a forester, both before and after a sale. Kansans can get the contact information for the KFS forester assigned to their district by calling the state office at 785-532-3300 or by contacting a nearby Kansas State University Research and Extension office.

The forest service also administers the state's assigned funding from the U.S. Environmental Quality Incentives Program for Forestland Health, Atchison said. That program can provide financial assistance following a sale, to improve or maintain the timber "cropland."

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