Fauquier County stretches for almost 60 miles from north to south and encompasses over 400,000 acres. Almost half of this area is forested, mostly owned in small tracts of 5-50 acres. Many landowners want their woodlands to generate income. This section of the manual will deal primarily with timber cutting options. During the 1990's, Fauquier's woodlands generated an average of about one million dollars a year in timber products. The Virginia Department of Forestry is the lead state agency in providing landowner assistance. In addition, Virginia Cooperative Extension and private consulting foresters also offer important services.
The first step toward a healthy, productive woodland is a forest management plan. The Virginia Department of Forestry has foresters in each county of Virginia to provide management plans, free of charge. A forest management plan provides several tools for the landowner. First and foremost is an inventory of species composition, age, growth rate, and merchantability. Multiple use is an important feature of the plan, and includes wildlife habitat development, aesthetics, and recreation. Recommendations are also included to protect water quality and sensitive natural areas during logging operations. The final plan will include a map showing timber type and location, land uses, natural features, and drainage. It is important that landowners establish their management plan before harvesting timber.
Prior to a harvesting operation, The VDF foresters provide information on methods of selling timber, suggestions for timber sales contracts, and lists of consulting foresters for timber valuation and sale administration. VDF foresters also provide assistance in replanting.
Private Consulting Foresters provide several valuable, fee-based services for landowners. These services include appraising the timber to be sold, preparing the contract and conducting the sale, and monitoring the logging operation. In most instances, retaining a consulting forester will ensure the highest return for the timber and the sale with fewest problems for the landowner. A list of consulting foresters is included in this section, following the VDF publication 'How To Sell Timber'.
Virginia Cooperative Extension offers many services to forest landowners. Local Extension Agents assist with tree species identification, insect and disease diagnosis, and pesticide recommendations. State level and area forest specialists conduct forestry tours, workshops, field days, and demonstrations for a variety of forestry related topics.
There are dozens of timber buying companies that serve the northern part of Virginia. Some companies cut any type of timber, while others specialize in hardwoods, pine, or pulpwood. A list of timber buying companies is included in this section. Landowners must work with their local forester or consulting forester to select a timber buying company. Most companies have a minimum acreage or number of board feet, which can present a problem to owners of small tracts. There are also very few buyers who will be interested in cutting just one or two trees. Some sawmills may purchase certain types of wood that a landowner cuts and delivers himself, but details must be arranged in advance.
Generally speaking, most consulting foresters work with jobs starting in the 8-10 acre range and larger. Most small jobs are contracted directly between the landowner and timber buyer. Landowners who are interested in selective cutting of hardwoods must have a sizable amount of timber in the 20 inch and above diameter range. Demand and market conditions fluctuate, so landowners thinking of a timber cutting operation should stay in contact with their local Virginia Department of Forestry personnel.
Following is contact information for additional resources:
The Virginia Department of Forestry has a website at http://www.dof.state.va.us/. This site contains most of the publications in this section, as well as numerous other publications and information for forest landowners.
The Fauquier County Forester is
VA Department of Forestry
675 Frost Avenue,
Warrenton, VA. 20186
How To Sell Timber
Consulting Forester List - Virginia Department of Forestry
Timber Buyer List - Virginia Department of Forestry
Fauquier County Harvest Volume and Value 1986-2000 - Virginia Department of Forestry