CAPITAL IDEAS -- LIVE!
News Conference for Forest Owners
Sponsored by the Alabama Forest Owners' Association, Inc.
This Conference was recorded on July 15, 2015.
Hayes D. Brown
starting time: (00:00)
Hayes D. Brown, attorney and forest owner, will moderate this news
conference. Hayes' email address is
Click Here to View & Hear Prior News Conferences.
Marshall D. Thomas
Proposed Tax-Code Changes Catastrophic for Small Landowners
Marshall Thomas is
F & W Forestry Services,
Inc., a a full-service consulting forestry company serving thousands
of landowner clients in 11 states. Marshall recently wrote an article in
The Forestry Source, June 2015, entitled
Proposed Tax-Code Changes
Catastrophic for Small Landowners.
In the article, Marshall lists three tax
provisions of importance to small forest landowners that have been
singled out by Congressional leaders for removal from the tax code:
- capital gains
- timber-growing expenses
- reforestation expenses
He spells out the disaster these changes will
be to small forest landowners with good numerical examples. He calls the
results "fatal numbers."
Perhaps in an attempt to help lawmakers
understand us better, Marshall points out the benefits to all Americans of
private forest ownership:
the diverse reasons for ownership, and the different objectives of each
owner, we have a very diverse forest landscape across the South—a
wonderful mixture of native forest, plantations, and creeks.
Within these forest types, some landowners thin their
trees, some burn to control vegetation and improve wildlife habitat, and
some just let the trees grow until they are ready to cut. Next time you
are driving through a rural area of the South, take a look at the
roadside forests, and you will see this diverse landscape.
Phone: (229) 883-0138
Black Warrior Waterdog -- ESA Status
Matt Laschet is a
Fish and Wildlife Biologist with the
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
(FWS), based in Daphne, Alabama. Matt called AFOA about a month ago and
asked if we could help him present information about the
Black Warrior Waterdog to forest landowners. The Black Warrior Waterdog
is an aquatic salamander that lives within the Black Warrior River Basin in
Alabama (Winston, Cullman, Walker, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Blount, and
Fayette counties). The salamander has
been proposed for listing as a threatened or endangered species under the
Endangered Species Act.
The Summary of Threats in the
FWS Species Assessment and Listing Priority Assignment Form says,
Water quality degradation is the
biggest threat to the continued existence of the Black Warrior waterdog.
Populations are at risk due to impoundments, increased sedimentation,
and pollution resulting from mining, forestry, agricultural activities,
and industrial and residential sewage effluent. Low population densities
and habitat fragmentation further threaten this species. We find that
this species is warranted for listing throughout all its range, and,
therefore, find that it is unnecessary to analyze whether it is
threatened or endangered in a significant portion of its range.
In a conversation with Matt a few weeks ago,
he hinted that the FWS might want landowners to voluntarily widen the
Streamside Management Zones (SMZ)
(pages 4 & 5) from 35 feet to 50 feet, a 43% increase. Since we understand that the
sedimentation that is threatening the salamander today was deposited many
years ago, we asked Matt to explain why an increase in the SMZ would be of
A 43% increase in land (the best quality soils, in fact)
substantially lost to production is a significant taking of private property
with no mention of compensation by the federal government. Mississippi
Senator Thad Cochran recently said, "While it is important to protect and
preserve America's indigenous wildlife, such efforts should not create
unnecessary and excessive economic hardships on people and surrounding
For further study:
Alabama's Best Management Practices for Forestry
Phone: (251) 441-5842
Sonja N. Oswalt
Ash Trees in Alabama Face Likely Threat
Sonja Oswalt is a
Resource Analyst with the
USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and
Analysis Program. An e-Science Update written by Sonja,
Status of Ash [Fraxinus spp.] Species in Alabama, Arkansas,
Mississippi and Louisiana, 2013 (scroll to the second page for an
Alabama map), was featured earlier this year in a
The Status of Ash Species in Selected Southern States. From that
article we quote:
The emerald ash borer (EAB), an
introduced Asian beetle species first detected in Michigan in 2002, has
spread throughout the northeastern U.S. and into the southern states of
Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Some stands of ash have experienced up to 99 percent mortality as a
result of beetle infestation, impacting not only the ecology of the
stands but also the economies of the states where infestations occur.
Current locations of emerald ash borer infestations suggest that the
beetle will eventually infest stands in Alabama, Mississippi, and
We asked Sonja to tell us about the
distribution and importance of the Ash species in Alabama and the problem
posed by the Emerald Ash Borer. In her reply to our invitation she wrote:
I can’t predict whether EAB will become a dramatic problem in the state
(although it is currently considered the “most destructive forest pest ever
seen in North America” according to Michigan State professors, but I do
think it will eventually reach Alabama, probably sooner rather than later.
It was in Georgia in 2013, and was found in Louisiana in February of this
year. It seems to be moving steadily southward every year. The counties
infested in Georgia directly border Alabama, so in my opinion spread to Alabama
For Further Study:
Phone: (865) 862-2058
Miles L. Merwin
Forestry Tour of Sweden & Norway
Miles Merwin, co-owner of
Ridgeback Tree Farm near Portland, Oregon, is a member of the
board of directors of the
Woodland Co-op. Oregon Woodland Cooperative is a group of
family forestland owners that helps its members market their timber and
non-timber forest products, and improve their forest management through
shared knowledge and practical skills. Miles and others have organized a Forestry Tour
to Sweden and Norway and invite forest landowners from across the
U.S. to travel with them.
Oregon Woodland Cooperative, Washington Co. Small Woodlands Association,
and the Oregon State University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension
have organized a tour to Scandinavia especially for small woodland owners.
This educational tour will focus on private forestry in Sweden and Norway
and the role of woodland owner cooperatives. We will meet private woodland
owners and tour their tree farms, see harvesting equipment in action, and
visit forestry companies, sawmills, equipment manufacturers, and forestry
museums. In addition, tour participants will see and experience outstanding
natural beauty in the farms, forests, mountains and fjords of Sweden and
Norway, and enjoy the cultural highlights of the towns and cities along the
A View of Scandinavian Forestry Cooperatives
Forestry Tour to Sweden & Norway
May 27 – June 14, 2016
Deadline for reservations is October 1, 2015.
Property Ownership Maps (see
link update list below, 8/4/21)
Erich Gnewikow is a representative of
based in Missoula, Montana. We learned about onXmaps from an Alabama timber
buyer who used it daily in his work to find the names of landowners and see
property lines on his smart phone. The price for the entire state of Alabama
was under $30 per year and they offer a seven day free trial. After
downloading the Hunt app into an iPhone and playing with it for a few
minutes, we contacted Erich and asked him to tell us about Property
Ownership Maps and other products offered by his company. He wrote:
OnXmaps provides our customers with
premium digital mapping software. We offer
land ownership/Plat data available for your GPS/Computer and
Mobile Device. We have 39 states available for our plug and play Micro
SD chip and all 50 states available for our app.
SD chips have color-coded public land data, boat ramps,
campgrounds, roads and trails, 1:24K topo plus much more. The Premium
chips are state specific and include private landownership names and
HUNT app covers all 50 states and is available for
Android and IOS mobile devices which can be accessed through
both Google Play store and the iTunes store. We are offering a 7 day
free trial so you can try it before you buy it. Turn your phone into a
GPS. With our app you have the ability to mark waypoints, create
polygons and choose from 13 different basemaps that include satellite
imagery, standard USGS topo, and more.
Cellular network coverage is NOT needed to use the HUNT App and the GPS
Proprietary tile caching technology allows you to cache basemaps and
all other key map layers for use when you are away from cellular network
coverage or wi-fi.
One detail that sets us apart is our data acquisition team that insures
we have the most up to date information for our customers. We frequently
update our maps. With the purchase of our chip you will
receive free updates for the rest of the year.
Many of the
links, above, are out of date: Here is a list of links as of 8/4/21:
Phone: (406) 540-1602
Dr. Jennie L. Stephens
Center for Heirs' Property Preservation
Jennie Stephens is
Executive Director of the Center for Heirs'
Property Preservation, based in Charleston, South Carolina. Since
there are many acres of heirs' property in Alabama, we invited Dr. Stephens
to tell us about the work of the Center for Heirs' Property Preservation.
What is Heirs' Property?
In the Lowcountry, heirs’ property
(HP) is mostly rural land owned by African Americans who either
purchased or were deeded land after the Civil War. Historically, HP
owners were routinely denied access to the legal system; could not
afford to pay for legal services, and didn’t understand or trust the
legal system. As a result, much of this land was passed down through the
generations without the benefit of a written Will, or the Will was not
probated within the 10 years required by SC law to make it valid – so
the land became heirs’ property. Often the family members didn’t know
Heirs’ property is land owned “in common” (known as tenants in common)
by all of the heirs, regardless of whether they live on the land; pay
the taxes or have never set foot on the land.
"Our mission is to protect heirs’ property and promote its sustainable use
to provide increased economic benefit to low-wealth families through
education, legal services and forestry technical assistance."
Further reading and reference:
Dr. Jack Lutz
Internal Rate of Return, Net Present Value, Present Value
Jack Lutz is
Principal and Forest Economist of the
Research Group and and has over 25 years of experience in timberland
investments in academic, industry, research and consulting positions. You
have probably made legal pad analyses of your land and forestry investments,
but using the calculating power in programs like Excel spreadsheets or Texas
A&M Forest Service's
Timberland Decision Support System may have seemed too complicated or
confusing. To clear away a little of the fog, we asked Dr. Lutz to help us
understand the terms Internal Rate of Return (IRR), Net Present Value (NPV)
and Present Value (PV). In
IRR vs. NPV, Forest Research Notes, Volume 8, Number 1, First
Quarter, 2011, Jack wrote:
Timberland owners are constantly
facing questions of which investment will be the best to make.
Genetically improved seedlings will grow faster and produce higher
volumes (or earlier harvests) than "unimproved" seedlings, but they cost
more. Fertilizing a stand at age 3 will improve growth rates, but it
costs something to apply that fertilizer....The question of which method
to use in making capital budgeting decisions has filled whole volumes of
the financial and economic literature. Here we present a short history
and a quick review of current thinking.
Jack's Program Notes
Phone: (978) 432-1794
Dr. Joseph Dahlen
Strength of Lumber Result of Growing Conditions and Market Forces
Joe Dahlen is an
Assistant Professor of Wood Quality and Forest Products at the
University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
"His research focuses on applying and developing technologies to measure,
manage and improve the physical, mechanical, and chemical properties of wood
from managed forests." In the introductory or background paragraphs of
Strength Parameters of Lumber Sawn from Loblolly Pine Plantations in
Georgia's Coast Plain, Joe and co-authors Richard Daniels and Dale
On June 1,
2013, the Board of Governors of the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB)
updated the design values for all sizes and grades of visually graded
Southern Pine lumber. The new (lower) design values were based on
destructive testing of full-size visually graded lumber. The lumber was
randomly selected across the South from commercially produced Southern
Two popular theories surfaced to explain the reduction
in design values. First, many believed increased growth rates due to
genetics, herbicide use, and fertilization decreased wood density. The
decrease in lumber strength was directly associated with the perceived
decrease in wood density. Another popular theory attributed the
decreased lumber strength to increased proportions of juvenile wood.
This increased juvenile wood content was driven by chipn- saw mills
producing more lumber from small-diameter trees. During the Recession,
landowners reduced final harvest of mature stands and increased first
and second thinning of younger stands. This theory concluded that lumber
strength decreased due to the increased harvest of younger and
smaller-diameter trees. SPIB could not substantiate either theory,
because the source of the trees producing the lumber was unknown.
In an email response to our non-scientific
conclusion that market conditions had caused southern pine lumber to be
weaker, because small chip-n-saw logs had become the primary source of
southern pine lumber during the recession, Joe wrote:
I don't think you can just say that market
conditions were the sole reason why southern pine wood is now "weaker" than
what has been harvested in the past.
There is a relatively large body of evidence that suggests that wood grown
in plantations is weaker than wood grown in natural stands. However the
reason isn't a natural vs. plantation wood production per se but is largely
attributed to the amount of juvenile vs. mature wood that exists in each of
the stands based on the targeted rotation ages, as well as the impact that
spacing & management plays on the branches.
... another study that was conducted by International Paper
that compared several stand ages and management:
Impact of Age and Site Index on Lumber Quality from Intensively Managed
Stands, Southern Regional Extension Forestry.
This is a complicated issue... We are still working on assessing
the impacts of silviculture on the wood quality from these stands; when this
is completed we will have a better picture of how we can manipulate wood
quality through silviculture.
Phone: (706) 583-0464
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