Eroded forest road due to poor planning
Best Management Practices Before the Timber Harvest


Develop a baseline map and mark property boundaries for forest work

This web article explains how landowners and foresters can use maps and a walk in the woods to create an important forest management document - the baseline map. This map guides future timber harvesting activities.


A baseline map is as important as the timber harvest contract. It shows the boundaries of the property, the boundaries of the timber harvest, and other features that make a good timber harvest possible. These maps are used by the forester, the logging crew, code enforcement officials, forest owners, and realtors who are buying or selling the property.

Many forest owners create a baseline map with a copy of the legal survey. On it, they mark stream courses, major landmarks, and location of woodland edges and roadways. If you are not sure how to do this, or doubt you ability to do it accurately, a consulting forester can help you develop a baseline map for forest management.

Click on the map to see what should be marked.

Mark forest boundaries
Most property boundaries in forests are obscure. Your forest boundaries should be clearly marked with a combination of ownership signs, posted signs, flagging, and fencing, where appropriate. If forest property boundaries are made clear, the crime of timber theft is both more pronounced and easier to prosecute.

Obtain current survey or deed description
Surveys and deed documents will include a legal description of property boundaries. Use them to locate benchmarks, such as iron pins and roads. Sometimes, the deed or survey will use natural features, such as a woodland edge or ravine to express property boundaries.

Walk the boundaries in the forest
Each season, make a habit of walking or driving an ATV along your forested property boundaries. Make a written or photographic record of significant landmarks or areas in question. It is easier to see property boundary trends when the foliage is off the trees.

Invite neighboring property owners to double check and agree to property line.
As a good will gesture and to indicate your earnestness about protecting your assets, invite a neighboring property owner to walk with you and agree to the position of the property boundary. If any areas are in question, hire a professional survey crew to set the property line. Mark the line with flagging or paint only after it is agreed upon or defined by a professional survey. Too often, adjacent property owners play boundary tag, removing and posting boundary limits when the other is not around.

Map image from Alpine Forestry
Home | Index | Tools for Planning a Harvest | Cornell Cooperative Extension ForestryCornell Cooperative Extension helps forest owners

Please cite source: Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2004
Written by James Ochterski, CCE - Schuyler County