Timber Harvesting


Steps to Sell Timber


  1. Contact your County Agricultural Extension or a Forestry Extension agent.
    • Service forestry personnel are often located within the state Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, or Forestry Commission
    • Extension Forestry personnel are typically located at your local Land-Grant university in the Forestry Department
    • Alternatively, you can visit the website of the USDA Cooperative Extension System, which contains links to every state's free services, often including forestry assistance by professional foresters
  2. Contact a professional forestry consultant. These experts provide a wide variety of services for a fee: tree planting advice, forest management, timber cruising (determining timber value), and timber sale preparation and supervision. 
    • If you cannot answer the following questions and others like them, you may need the help of a professional forester.
      • How many trees will be cut?
      • How much is the timber worth?
      • How and when will the logger pay me?
      • Will the logger take only the best trees and leave the rest?
      • What condition will my woods be in when the logging is completed?
      • Will the logger have liability insurance and post a performance bond?
      • How do I report this income to the IRS?
  3. If you decide not to have a professional forester visit your forest, then you should obtain as many offers as possible for your timber and make sure that the hired harvesting company satisfies the following:
    • Bonded and insured
    • Knows your property boundaries
    • Follows all existing laws
    • Knows exactly which of your trees you want harvested, and
    • Thoroughly understands your objectives regarding your land after the timber is harvested. 


Necessity of a Contract


Without a properly written contract, owners of small woodlands may find themselves in situations that result in costly and time-consuming disputes and possibly litigation. To help avoid these complications, it’s important to learn and understand the basic requirements of a well-written contract before becoming legally bound by a written contract or oral agreement. 


A contract is (1) an agreement that (2) describes a promise or set of promises between two parties; (3) stipulates that performance of these promises is a duty; and (4) provides for a remedy if one or both parties breaks these promises.


Four Basic Contract Requirements

Four basic elements are required for a valid contract:

  1. Agreement—an offer by one party (the offeror) and an acceptance of the offer by the other party (the offeree)
  2. Capacity—the legal competency to be a party to a contract
  3. Consideration—the giving up of a legal right (the exchange of a promise for a promise in a bilateral contract or the exchange of a promise for an act in a unilateral contract)
  4. Legality of purpose—meets local, state, and federal laws


In many, but not all, cases, contracts must be in writing to be enforceable. A written contract may be enforceable even if it does not contain all terms intended by the parties. If enough basic terms were written down and the party against whom it is being enforced signed it, the other party can enforce the contract in a court. Enforcement of an oral contract usually requires legal proceedings, which can be costly and time consuming.


Among contracts that must be in writing to be enforceable, three kinds apply to forestry transactions:

  1. Contracts for the sale of real property or an interest in real property.
    • Real property includes bare land and land along with property permanently fixed to the land, such as buildings.
    • An interest in real property includes leases for land or buildings for more than a year, and easements.
  2. Contracts that can’t be performed within 1 year from the date of making the contract (not from the date of beginning of performance).
  3. Contracts for the sale of goods for a total contract price of $500 or more (for example, logs sold for a contract price of $500 or more).
    • In most states, standing timber to be cut by the buyer is classified as goods (not real property) in a timber sale contract without the land.




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