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I feel incredibly stupid asking this.But how do I identify wood?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by JoshF, Sep 7, 2008.

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  1. downeast

    downeast Guest

    [quote author="Glacialhills"
    There just isn't a way to tell 100% positive specie identity from bark and wood grain alone and can even be hard for a novice to tell the right genus. Experts know that they need to see bark,bud symmetry, and leaves to make a 100% positive specie id. Anyone that tells you otherwise, is well, I will just say better than the average bear at tree identification.

    It is scary that in this era of budget cuts,when states are downsizing/ doing away with county ag agencies and foresters, so many private foresters, that are supposed to be helping many small landowners manage their woodlots, Could care less about species id and wanting to know which species grow best,worst in a particular area.Which species are best to keep/grow for wildlife and so on.They seem to look at a land owners wood lot and see one thing... board ft,Only oak,maple,walnut and cherry trees, high grade, veneer logs and $$$ signs and dont care what any of the "junk" is growing beside them.I have only found one forester that would tell me this honest truth about the industry, but only if I never mentioned his name and he told me he would deny talking with me if I ever revealed what he said.And I have dealt with more foresters than most (25+). from many states.I have seen over and over woods that have been high graded, and owners grossly underpaid for their veneer grade timber, and have come to the conclusion: That almost all foresters are in bed with the loggers,and timber/veneer mills. Are not "independent" and do not have the land owners interest in mind when marking and bidding out woodlots.So Be diligent when hiring anyone to do work in your wood lot. You and only you are the best Stuart for the trees under your care. If you really care and love your woodlot, do yourself a favor and read some books and become your own forester, its not rocket science after all. Ok all you foresters out there, flame away.[/quote]

    Dumb statement and dumber. :sick:

    Most professional Foresters we know, have used, are friendly with, WORK FOR THE LANDOWNER. It is always in the contract. They are paid BY THE WOODLOT OWNER. You may have run into one forester that was incompetent, but I doubt it. What's the Forester's state ID number ? Was he/she really a Registered or Consulting Forester, degreed, with references and experience ? Didn't think so. That fool statement is from the top of your head --as in: "this elevator doesn't go up". C'mon now. Your rant is : READY FIRE AIM.

    Forestry is a long course of university study, fieldwork, licensing, experience. Yale, U of Maine, Harvard............

    I know no Foresters that are "in bed" with anyone but themselves, their spouses %-P , their clients. Period.

    And who the H is "Stuart" ? This is not a Forester is he ? :lol:

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  2. wally

    wally New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    54
    Loc:
    central nh
    my comment is that glacialhills is painting with a pretty broad brush.

    i'm relatively confident that i can identify 90% of the logs produced in my area without the benefit of leaves, buds, twig pattern or branches. in other words, logs, pulp sticks, cordwood, whatever in transportable form are things i can readily identify based on just the grain, color, bark, smell, rays (and other cell structures).

    and for those few instances where there are some oddballs, i'll do my homework to be able to identify them on those particular jobs.

    there's no real practical value to being able to differentiate the sub-family of oaks for cordwood purposes, other than to divide them into white/red. i can identify all the chinkapin oak i'll ever see in new england. same goes for laurel. on the other hand, we do have white, swamp white, northern red, black, scarlet, pin, and chestnut oaks, which are differentiable "on the landing". and for any species where the similarities are such that differentiation at the "log" level isn't possible, what's the difference? (for cordwood) really? silver maple will have virtually the same value as red maple for that. same goes for black, green and white ash. and yellow and black birch. ad nauseum. the point, though, is that i've already identified the standing trees prior to any harvest, so i KNOW which species are going to show up on the landing for each particular job.

    i'm in bed with the mills and the loggers? maybe you ought to do a little research about the subject before you go indicting me.

    interestingly enough, on my in-law's lot in manchester, michigan, there seems to be only shagbark hickory, eastern white pine, sycamore, quaking aspen, weeping willow, sugar maple, black walnut, white ash, black cherry, red maple, red pine and american elm. no oaks that i've seen so far. and i've been looking for over 10 years.
  3. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Thx for the reality check Wally. You're some elegant about it...better than my post. :red:
    For those who don't know what Foresters do, Google or go to one of the universities with a Forestry dept. I still have a tough time identifying the Ashes here Downeast---with or without the guides. Eastern Amerindian basket makers are losing the Brown Ashes that are used for the art of basket making.
    The Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM) is our timberland group.
  4. wally

    wally New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    54
    Loc:
    central nh
    to get to the OP's question, a good way to learn to ID wood is to learn to ID the trees local to your area. once you are comfortable with recognizing the majority of local trees, you'll find that ID of "cordwood" etc. will be a lot easier, including older dead stuff.

    it doesn't matter that i can ID doug-fir readily, i'm not going to find it very often in new england. yes, it has been planted here, and i've found it on a few clients' properties, but it just isn't something that will show up in a log load very often (probably less than 1 in 10,000,000 loads in new england - heck, probably less often than that).

    wally
  5. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    222
    Loc:
    S.W. Michigan
    If the thread was read though I did ask why would you need to ID species for cordwood.Then Down east said he could ID species (not just Genus) just from bark and "smell". Which I dont think is possible.

    So Wally, you dont believe that Land owners are, more often than not, under paid for their veneer? This is after hiring a licensed forester. And that on the whole, Wood lots are highgraded and left in unsustainable condition?again with a forester doing the marking.And the woodlot owners are left with a bunch of "cull" trees and un marketable species, with little timber for future harvests. And this can be Especially true when the land owner is not made aware/educated of the value of the timber and the unsustainable practices of high grading a smaller woodlot that are rampant in the logging industry. Why do loggers/mills have "cruisers" that constantly trespass, and solicit owners with offers of cash, and the private foresters "work with these same mills/loggers". When they should be warning the owners away from them if they were truly looking out for the owners that hire them.

    I am sure there are good, hardworking foresters out there, But in my limited experience with 2 dozen or so foresters, Only two were concerned with more than $$$ and high value trees and did not even mention other less desirable species. The poster Downeast summed up that conclusion pretty well in his own words.
    Now I dont know what his credentials are. But that same attitude is pervasive in the industry. I have seen multiple times a small woodlot/family farmer's woodlot practically "*****" after the loggers were through. and this is after the owner hired a forester to help him manage the woodlot,thinking that it would be properly harvested.After talking to them They said they were so distraught about it and saddened that their family woodlot was wrecked for their lifetime and most of their children's. This in my opinion is not in the owners best interest. Yes there are foresters that are working and being good stewards for other's woodlots. But, and again this is just my opinion, that number is rare compared to the numbers that do the mills/loggers bidding.
  6. wally

    wally New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    54
    Loc:
    central nh
    clearly, your experience with "20 or more" foresters differs from my own. no doubt, there are foresters that do a poor job; all professions have individuals that are marginal. i have zero information about the licensing requirements in the great state of michigan, or indeed if licensing is even required to practice in that state. however, i do know what the education, work experience and licensing requirements are in northern new england states, and those requirements stipulate a significant part of the forester-client obligation and duty of care.

    as in most transactions, it is buyer beware. do your homework. check references. a forester (or anyone else), that constantly sells his/her clients short won't be in business very long. fwiw, i don't advertise. all of my jobs are obtained via word of mouth - completely based on client satisfaction and my reputation.

    really, you don't need to quote your own previous posts as though they were someone elses.
  7. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Now I dont know what his credentials are. But that same attitude is pervasive in the industry. I have seen multiple times a small woodlot/family farmer’s woodlot practically “*****” after the loggers were through. and this is after the owner hired a forester to help him manage the woodlot,thinking that it would be properly harvested.After talking to them They said they were so distraught about it and saddened that their family woodlot was wrecked for their lifetime and most of their children’s. This in my opinion is not in the owners best interest. Yes there are foresters that are working and being good stewards for other’s woodlots. But, and again this is just my opinion, that number is rare compared to the numbers that do the mills/loggers bidding. Quote from "GlacialTill" .

    More Forest Gump ( sic ). These kind of Urban Myth, internet stories are filled with debris. So, here's the end game: some specific names of both the perpetrators you tar, and the so-called "victims"; the "*****", the "20 or more". One specific verified fact.
    Yes, there are unscrupulous cutters around. There are unscrupulous ______ ( fill in the blank ). What did you say you do for work ? And, doubt that there are licensed Foresters involved. Names ? You won't let go of your accusations, so give us specifics with footnotes.
    Glad to see you got "steward" right. %-P ;-)
  8. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    222
    Loc:
    S.W. Michigan
    Why would I go and name names and companies, especially on a forum like this?I will just say that one company is a veneer mill in southern MI. and loggers near them. Not hard to find out the specific ones if you look.The list is short.The loggers with their "cruisers" ?Pretty much name one that doesn't high grade and take advantage of uneducated woodlot owners? that would be easier than listing the bad ones. As for the foresters, yes they all are licensed and accredited (or at least claim that next to their names). Take your pick in a list provided by state of michigan,indiana, ohio. Out of most listed I only dealt with two that followed that code that wally said they spent so much time at school learning.The others would not testify against 2 big mills, and multiply logging companies, Would not give estimates of value of veneer trees, or even worse, grossly under value said veneer to multiply owners. Mismarked/overmarked trees that were told them to not cut, marked trees on adjacent property owners land, and even go so far as to have cutters cut trees even when marked with "do not cut" written in red over mismark knowing that the trees were of such high value that is was , to them , worth the risk of getting sued. limiting bids to companies that they had preselected and/or work with daily. Do I need to go on? The bad apples in the business are, at this point, out numbering the good ones. This is not only my assessment of the industry. This is from recent surveys of owners asked. When a logger/forester can make hundreds of thousands of dollars off one unsuspecting small to medium landowners woodlot on lowballing the veneer walnut/cherry the temptation is just to great and regulations are rarely if ever enforced ie (triple damage law/ trespass law. contract violations. They play the law of averages. Out of 100 times they break the law, they might get prosecuted 2-3 times. and actually have to pay up once. you do the math. It pays to be crooked. And yes, in most professions the bad ones wouldn't be in business long, but for most people they will only have their woodlot logged once or twice in there lifetime. it's not hard to go under the radar if you dont know who is bad and who is good when you have "cruisers" show up unsolicited at your house with offers of cash. Or hire a "professional" to do it right, but have no way to check them out other than look at their credentials. I was told a lot of this from a practicing forester that was corroborated by 2 university forestry personal/high officials. But no I will not name names. I will say no more.
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