This web site explains how to use
maps, soil surveys, aerial photographs, contracts and other documents
for timber harvest planning. It lists the many different components
forest workers and landowners should identify to prevent erosion
from a timber harvest site.
key concept in planning a timber harvest is to gather information
and use it. Prepare a timber harvest plan that reduces forest
soil erosion before loggers and their equipment arrive.
The decision to harvest timber
always lies with the forest owner or the owner of timber rights
on a piece of property. The size, duration, and timing of the
harvest may be influenced by other factors, but the "green
light" comes from the forest owner. A substantial proportion
of forest owners in New York may face this decision at some point.
Without good information, the decision to harvest timber can cause
long-term harm to our forest and wildlife resources.
owners should avoid looking at timber assets as a solution to
temporary financial or family circumstances. Long-term thinking
can pay off with higher economic and ecological rewards. If money
is your main objective, using all these best management practices
is the best way to gain the most money over the longest period
Forest owners who are approached
by loggers or foresters pressuring a sale should be especially
cautious. These individuals are not likely to have the best interests
of the forest owner or their forest in mind.
Once a landowner has made the decision
to conduct a timber harvest, a period of planning and preparation
begins. Pre-harvest planning
is the gathering and analysis of maps, photographs, a forest inventory,
and other documents, coupled with several visits to the future
harvest site. In this process, potential mistakes are identified
and avoided. The landowner, forester, and logger each provide
and receive important information about each other's expectations
and can form a good working relationship.
and loggers are all responsible for ensuring logging activities
do not cause environmental harm to streams and lake waters. For
cost-conscious landowners and loggers, it is always more economical
to prevent erosion, rather than fix areas damaged by erosion.
Fines for violating Environmental Conservation Laws can be severe.
Six Important Points in Preharvest Planning:
1. Review where the timber harvest
fits into the forest owner's plan. Many foresters and loggers
understand that sustainable forestry starts with a good management
plan. This written document contains baseline information about
the forest, an inventory of the timber growing there, a description
of your goals, and steps on how to reach those goals, while sustaining
the productivity and health of the forest. The forest and forest
owner can benefit if the plan calls for harvesting at the time
More on developing a forest
stewardship plan . . .
Timber harvest planning tools
Obtain a topographic map of the site. On the topographic map,
mark important features, like streams, existing roads, property
boundaries, steep grades, and road access.
The plans you make on topographic
maps might appear to create restrictions when the timber is being
harvested. In reality, these maps will help you avoid problems
and provide many benefits. After using a topographic map to help
plan a timber harvest, many find their use to be second-nature.
Even though topographic maps are
considered to be highly accurate, it is important to field check
your work. The maps can not show all property features, especially
with larger forests. Take a copy of the map out to the logging
site and determine if any roads or trails need to be relocated.
More on topographic maps and timber
harvesting . . .
3. Obtain a soil survey of the
site and aerial photos. Use them to identify, wet areas, soil
that is poorly drained or has a seasonally high water table, and
gullies. Mark these areas on the topographic map.
More on soil surveys and aerial
photos . . .
4. Plan the timing of the harvest
and possible locations of the landing, stream crossings, culverts,
and temporary roads.
On the base map for the
- Mark the outline of the timber
harvest zone and the property boundaries
- Note where well-drained and
poorly drained soils are
- Mark existing forest roads or
rights-of-way, even though they may not be used
- Indicate the proposed landing,
roads, skid trails, and equipment / fuel storage
- Mark critical areas (steep slopes,
streams, smaller stream channels, wetlands, and floodplains)
in red, realigning plans for the timber harvest accordingly
- Designate stream crossings
- Designate areas adjacent to
streams and gullies as special Streamside Zones, where timber
harvesting should be controlled or avoided.
timing and locating landings
and roads . . .
Obtain proper permits for harvesting and moving timber. Few
landowners enjoy or agree with the need to obtain permits, but
they have a record of preventing harm to the public water resources
we all share and depend upon.
The first step is to call the county
Soil and Water Conservation District office and the regional NYS
DEC office and ask for staff who handle water quality protection
permits. In New York, DEC Permits are needed to cross "classified
streams" - streams that have special designations based on
existing or expected uses, like drinking water, swimming, fisheries,
and trout spawning. Special requirements apply to sustain these
waters that support these valuable and sensitive fisheries resources.
A Protection Of Waters Permit is required if the timber harvest
somehow crosses these protected streams, whether temporary or
The DEC can also issue a more straightforward
permit through the Standard Activity Permit Process (SAPP). These
are appropriate for simple logging jobs that do not involve many
stream crossings and will help ensure you are not at risk of violating
Environmental Conservation Laws. A DEC Forest Ranger, can assist
you with questions about SAPPs.
In some cases, the building of
new logging roads may be considered a construction activity,
depending on how long and wide the new roads are. If this applies
to the planned timber harvest site, a DEC permit related to Stormwater
Discharges from Construction Activities may be needed. This permit
calls for a stormwater pollution prevention plan in compliance
with New York's Environmental Conservation Law. Contact the permit
division at your regional DEC office, or check with county Soil
and Water Conservation District staff.
Local counties and towns or the
Army Corps of Engineers may have other permit requirements. The
Soil and Water Conservation District staff will be able to tell
you whether and which permits might be necessary. Be sure to follow
through with these completely to avoid fines and work stoppage.
version of permit information
6. Arrange this information
into a sound contract that protects all parties involved in a
timber sale. Develop a contract between landowner and logging
company to make clear what water quality BMPs will be used and
where. More on timber
contracts . . .