Logging land.

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

shortys7777

Feeling the Heat
Nov 15, 2017
376
Smithfield, RI
I have been thinking about this for some time. What kind of money can be made if say I bought 50-100 acres and wanted to make money off logging companies using my land? Specifically in Maine. I wouldn't mind building a cabin on part of the property. Maybe keeping 10 acres fully wooded. Do they usually only clear a certain amount of acres each time? What is the turn around on revisiting a certain area? 25 years? 50 years?
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,801
Northern NH
Not Much. Last thing I knew raw land is worth about $500 to $600 an acre. Much of the land for sale has been high graded once or twice. That means that a prior owner cut the most valuable trees and left the junk to grow big. That can be low value species of trees and defective trees that are not worth much. With the collapse of the paper industry and biomass power industry there is no great value in the low grade wood. Its likely that you will need to be thinning cuts where you are paying a contractor to clean out the junk and then wait a few decades to let the good stuff grow before it an be harvested for a profit . Hardwoods forests in Maine have 60 to 80 year rotation . Softwood is shorter. If its high ecological value land you may be able to sell a conservation easement but usually that is for larger parcels. If you get lucky your land ends up in an area where there is a increased demand for recreational properties.

There are on rare occasions good pieces of land with good trees that come up but the locals usually keep an eye on it and grab it if they can make a quick buck. If a realtor has it, it means the locals have figured out that the price is not worth what is there. Usually the local know when someone is getting ready to sell and buy if direct. On occasion an older generation will end up dead or in nursing home and their kids are clueless on the value. The locals grab the land, high grade it or clear cut it and then list it with realtor for sale as recreational property.

The best way to make money on the land is make wood product from the property where you are adding value. Lots of folks are trying their luck on maple production but corporations and hedge funds are into it so the time to make the bucks on syrup is past.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,845
Northern Maine
How much money you ask?? Zero.
How do you think you can compete with 1000’s of acres of professionally managed lands?
 

sweedish

Feeling the Heat
Feb 6, 2019
282
Michigan
I’m not sure that things are hopeless, doubtful you are going to get rich, but a consulting forester could probably point you in a direction if you have your eye on some property. And you could potentially rent it out also for hunting.
 

Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
1,132
Western Washington
It’s common around here to have x-mas tree farms. Some are remote and they helicopter the trees and bows out. There’s a big tax break on tree farms. We have a 35-45 year growth cycle here in Doug fir or alder (the bigger $) with about 10k $ per acre. Weyerhaeuser has super trees that might be a little quicker on return. Harvest cost is about 50% and if it’s bigger land it needs environmental impact study unless Xmas trees
 

Mutineer

Burning Hunk
Dec 13, 2018
133
NE Ohio
My Aunt and my second cousin co-own an abandoned 115 acre "farm" in western PA that's been in the family since the 1880's, we use it for hunting mostly. 5 years ago they selectively logged it for red and white oak, maple and a few walnuts, and from what we can figure from the old stumps that we found in the early 80's, it had been logged previously in the 30's. I haven't been able to figger a way to find out how much they got from the loggers but they had a real knowlegable forester ride herd on the loggers during the 3-4 month process, which my aunt was told was a must based on the reputations of the logging outfits. They took maybe 25-30% of the trees and cut in some logging roads that are real handy for us when hunting.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,801
Northern NH
Different areas have different markets. I have some knowledge of the regional markets near me which may be in the target range of the OP. Bad LP is farther north and east in Maine and his markets may be slightly different. One of the rule of thumbs for buying property is that a typical person is willing to drive about 2 hours on a frequent basis. Start stretching that out and the owner will slowly start to visit the property less. If he does the research, the cheap land in Maine is typical 4 hours plus from RI. The other thing to research is tax status. Maine, NH and VT all have tax programs to encourage large land owners to keep land out of development and in forestry production. Maine and VT requires active management and expenditure to keep the status. NH does not. Add in a camp in most cases you loose some of the the tax write offs. VT effectively charges higher tax rates on seasonal properties owned by out of staters. NHs property taxes vary by town. Some towns are high tax, some are low and if you know the rules there are some places in NH where there are no property taxes. Maine's rural towns and townships may have low taxes.

As an example my wood lot in very low tax town in NH enrolled in current use costs about $60 a year in taxes for 83 acres. If I want to build a camp, I have to pay the town one time to take a small portion of the lot out of current use. My guess is around $5000. I then have to pay regular property taxes on the land taken out of current use before I build. My guess is about $500 a year for a couple of acres. Then I build a camp which needs to meet state building codes and I am probably looking at a minimum of $1000 bucks a year for a real basic structure.

Christmas trees can be profitable but they require a long term investment and someone to keep an eye on them and do frequent brushing and trimming. It helps pay the bills for someone living on their land but not an absentee investment. I dont see anyone rushing to lease someone elses land to grow Christmas trees. Many of the New England trees come from large farms in Southern Quebec. Most of the local farms are cut your own. Usually old farms that are still clear are good fro Christmas trees. The cost to convert woodland over to growing Christmas trees would be extremely high.

The latest big thing for old farmland in Maine is solar farms. The state put in good incentives so those with ready to go projects are cashing in but only farms with access to the the right part of the power grid.

The big thing is you need to do lots of research and that takes time. Ideally you focus on one state and one region of the state. A good guideline is you make you money on rural land when you buy it not when you sell it. By the way banks rarely if ever lend money on raw land so make sure you have the money in the bank. It took me 20 years to buy my woodlot. I live up in Northern NH. I looked at lot of properties and eventually figured out what worked for my area. I got lucky on my lot, the long term local owner decided he needed to sell before a deadline, he had offered it to the neighbors without a realtor but they were not in position to buy. He put it with realtor and added the commissions to the price. The sign went up on a Friday and I signed an offer on Monday morning subject to a lot of conditions. I was a cash buyer. He also wanted to put in some long term restrictions of the use of the property which from my research and contacts I knew really had no long term teeth. I countered with a few short term restrictions that eventually sunset and questionable if he would even be able or interested in enforcing. Its in a recreational area surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest with a view facing south and has frontage on town road. It also has current survey with very clearly defined lines (a big problem with many rural lots). I walked all the lines and found all the pins. It also has a well built internal road with a couple of improved seasonal road for future timber management. Odds are I can cut off a lot along the road for myself and sell a second one that would probably cover half of what I paid for it.

Good luck if you decide to continue. I have book I can recommend you read on small woodland ownership and when I get up to my office I will edit this and put a link
 
  • Like
Reactions: moresnow

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,238
SW Missoura
I don't know your market in the north east but down here even at 100 acres it wouldn't be worth it unless you did it all yourself......maybe.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,801
Northern NH
Here is the link to the book. Its a bit dated but universally its recommended as the best book on New England small woodlots

Working with Your Woodland: A Landowner's Guide (Revised Edition): Beattie, Mollie, Thompson, Charles, Levine, Lynn, Howe, Nancy, Reidel, Carl: 9780874516227: Amazon.com: Books

Read it and understand it before proceeding.

Next thing is go roam every back issue of Northern Woodland magazine Issues | Center for Northern Woodlands Education . Its out of Vermont but New England specific and oriented towards small woodlot owners. Consider subscribing. If you want skip the wildlife sections and concentrate on woodland management and forestry articles but its where I learned much of my woodlands knowledge.

I have no experience with this group but they concentrate on Small Woodlot Owners in Maine

Maine Woodland Owners

Thinks of this as basic homework to start to get educated on small woodlot ownership. You definitely will not be pro but a at least you have a start. Skip getting educated and trust a real estate agent to educate you and you are just asking to get fleeced. Folks continually forget, the real agent works for the seller not the buyer and they have to work to the sellers advantage. If they dont, they can get sued by the seller. Most loggers dont advertise, they dont have to, they work with independent foresters who get paid by the land owner. The guys who advertise are usually the ones to watch out for. They convince an owner that they don't need a forester and realize they can get away with what they want to. if the owner tries to sue, they will quickly find a LLC wit no assets.
 

Nate R

Member
Nov 5, 2015
75
Wisconsin
I have been thinking about this for some time. What kind of money can be made if say I bought 50-100 acres and wanted to make money off logging companies using my land? Specifically in Maine. I wouldn't mind building a cabin on part of the property. Maybe keeping 10 acres fully wooded. Do they usually only clear a certain amount of acres each time? What is the turn around on revisiting a certain area? 25 years? 50 years?

Wisconsin, but had 35 acres of mixed woods thinned a couple years ago, forester involved marking and taking bids. Hadn't been logged in at least 40 years, but probably no logging for 100 years, but a fire came through about 1/2 the land in the 30s.
They took just under 700 cords of wood, 300 of it oak firewood. Also took oak logs, jack pine for pulp, red pine for logs and pulp, and a bunch of aspen. Got less than half the land value out of that. Guessing if they had taken it all, it would've been 1000-1200 cords? Guessing we would've maxed out around 2/3 of the land value if we took it ALL.

Hard way to make money, unless you get the land cheap, and get into a forest tax program. Property taxes are an important cost to something like this.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,508
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I have been thinking about this for some time. What kind of money can be made if say I bought 50-100 acres and wanted to make money off logging companies using my land? Specifically in Maine. I wouldn't mind building a cabin on part of the property. Maybe keeping 10 acres fully wooded. Do they usually only clear a certain amount of acres each time? What is the turn around on revisiting a certain area? 25 years? 50 years?

If you wanted to purchase some property for hunting, snowmobiling, ATVing, etc. and would like to help offset some of the costs of purchasing a parcel of land you could cut some wood off it . . . but as others have indicated it would most likely not be an on-going, annual money maker . . . and most likely would not pay for the entire purchase price of the property . . . much less provide a regular revenue source.

When you have a medium sized parcel of land like this you are either looking to cut the wood yourself and have it trucked out to a mill . . . hiring an independent logger to cut in and selective cut and get paid stumpage . . . or you hire an independent logger to come in who will grind it into woodchips for bio-fuel.

Doing the work yourself can be . . . well . . . a lot of work. The flip side is you cut exactly what and where you want to cut. This may also result in more profit in your hand in the end . . . but again . . . it's a lot of work and you would need the equipment to do so.

Hiring an independent logger to come in and selective cut also will result in a more healthy looking forest for most folks . . . but stumpage fees are relatively low. That said, there is very little work required from you other than directing the logger as to what to take/not take in terms of location, what you want to leave behind, etc. Around here most small, independent loggers work with skidders so you may have some ground damage depending on the time of year when the harvest occurs.

One of the easiest logging method is hiring chippers who will come in and chip the trees . . . leaving behind very little waste. These folks tend to want to more or less clear cut an area as they seem to rely on volume and moving in the heavy equipment -- tub grinders, feller/bunchers, etc. makes more sense with more trees to cut. I have seen some very good work where the operators worked very closely with the landowner and honestly the clear cut did not look that bad . . . and other operations where it looked like someone was looking to cut as much wood as they could as fast as they could. Again . . . landowner gets paid stumpage prices generally . . . which is not a lot in my opinion.

Turn around time to re-cut an area largely depends on what is growing . . . if there is active planting . . . and how the area is cut. Growing up my family -- grandfather, uncle and father -- would cut firewood for their homes and cut an occasional load of pulp wood. They cut using a selective method and in general could go back to an area in 7-14 years and find additional wood to cut. My father use to say he would cut firewood on the edges of a large field and by the time he made his way around the entire field after several years of cutting he could cut back the wood where he started originally.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JbTech

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,845
Northern Maine
A little back story.

I manage property full time and have been for a touch over 30 years in Mass. There were 135 acres in one part of town and another 40 in another.
We did take the 135 out of the states forestry program and built a subdivision 14 years ago. The cost to take it out of the program was high with a 5 year look back at what it would have cost taxing it at FMV as well as a penalty. In years past that parcel had been logged twice and the wood that came off of it was mostly high value hardwoods with a lot of Grade A pine. All this stuff was dead straight. When the road and drainage basins were cleared the cutter was impressed with the quality of the wood and a lot of it went to veneer mills with the pine being processed into lumber. all the tops were chipped into trailers and brought to various mills. We didn't get paid for it but it didn't cost anything either even with the high cost of diesel fuel at the time.
Fast forward to 2015 the 40 acre parcel was a mix of fields and forestry. Had the forester come out per the rules and submit a cutting plan to the state that was approved. Between the low value lousy bent and twisted wood and the price of fuel there was no way the same cutter was coming in to process the wood without incurring large costs on our part. It sits in the same condition it was in 2015.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,801
Northern NH
I can tell stories of folks getting $2,500 for the right veneer tree and hundreds of dollars for big sawlogs. Our town had a town forest that they bought in 1900. it was ideal tee growing land with SE sloping land and logging network in place. It got nuked by an ice storm in 1998. The town cleared over a 100K doing big time salvage. The loggers who did the work commented that logs like that were rarely seen in the region. There were a lot of truck loads heading to veneer mills and sawmills. Go out in the woods and look for perfect trees, unless its been managed for decades, you rarely see any. The log has to be perfect from the top of the root flare to the first branch. No knots, no branches, straight and even growth and big diameter. Find a curly or birds eye maple and the buyers do not even want it cut, they do it themselves and handle it with kid gloves. Like lottery tickets folks do get lucky but odds of that happening is the equivalent of looking through discarded scratch tickets in case someone missing a winning on. If its great wood, the locals usually know as they hunt in it. When it comes up for sale they will be first in line and an out of towner will not even see it for sale.

My lot is not that far away from our town forest and its south facing slope, kind of steep so that ups the loggers costs. It got nuked by the ice storm and was salvage cut. I was somewhat familiar with it pre ice storm and it was mostly very mature northern hardwoods with sugar maple the dominant tree. The prior owner did a salvage cut afterwards and with the exception of few old timers that missed the worst the understory moved in and has grown for 30 years. I had the management plan upgraded when I bought it and out of 83 acres I probably have 25 that could be cut. My bet is I might find a couple of veneer logs a good batch of sawlogs of various grades and a whole lot of pulp wood if there was a nearby mill buying hardwood pulp (there isnt). So I might turn it into firewood but will not make much. My forester even commented that there was lot to be said for cutting the trees on two frontage lots then selling them. to cut my basis down. The lot is now ripe for precommercial thinning cut to get the low grade trees out. That is going to cost me as the trees coming out will not be worth the cost. I figure 30K will make dent. I am battling "creeping beech (regenerating beech with blight" so figure in a few years of cut and squirt with herbicides to knock the beeches back and let the maples grow,. Now wait 30 years and whomever owns the lot may have nice harvest except that the Emerald Ash Borer will have wiped out any ashes, the spotted lanternlfy may move in and one of several maple specific pests may multiply due to warmer climate.

To me it not an investment. Odd are in 20 years I may donate it to the adjacent town forest after I have built a retirement home and possibly sold off a lot.
 

shortys7777

Feeling the Heat
Nov 15, 2017
376
Smithfield, RI
Alot of great info here. I don't think I'm ready for any of that stuff yet, but I learned a lot from these posts. One can dream I guess.
 
  • Like
Reactions: andym

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,508
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Alot of great info here. I don't think I'm ready for any of that stuff yet, but I learned a lot from these posts. One can dream I guess.

The flip side is you can still buy a parcel, build a camp and use it for hunting, snowmobiling, ATVing, getting away from it all, etc.
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,238
SW Missoura
Yea....land is still a great investment regardless of whether you log it or not. It's a lot like gold really. In some ways it is better.
 

Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
1,132
Western Washington
The hardwoods we have here are pure crap compared to the east from what I’ve been told. Curious if there’s been any attempt to ship and sell some of this worthless wood you guys are talking about. A relatively new one around here is blue pine flooring. Basically a pine starting to rot or stain and then they mill it into flooring. Soft pine makes crap flooring if you ask me. Sure seems there should be a nitch market for those actual hard woods you guys have.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,442
Downeast Maine
I think about buying some land in Aroostook county, maybe northern Oxford county once we get our current property settled out. The land we own now doesn't have much in the way of hardwoods, most of the trees are spruce and fir, which is great since we have a small mill. I'd ideally like to find a 100+ acre lot with some cherry, sugar maple, and cedar to selectively cut for my own use and then plant a tree farm of some sort, probably balsam fir for Christmas trees. Certainly I'd put a cabin on it and try and manage the lot for hunting, maybe raise some native game animals to keep it "stocked".
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,801
Northern NH
Yes there are uses but it comes down to its a lot cheaper to buy and import it from some third world country then to harvest it locally. The local firewood market is not that great.

On the other hand the Yale Retirement Fund (Bayroot), John Malone (the biggest private land owner in the US)and several other large TImber Management Organizations along with several other large investors are picking up large blocks of land when they can. Its a place to store value long term and get a revenue stream while the hold it.

If someone looks very long term (decades and centuries) and climate change inundates the coast and dries out the southern US the logical place for society to retreat to is north away from the coasts. Land that was trees might end up as farmland. To an average guy they cant play that market but those with excess resources they look at it for a much longer term.

BTW, the current pandemic is driving a lot of folks up to the markets in central and Northern and rural Maine. Folks are getting away from the cities and picking up second homes using home equity and super low interest rates. This happened before and it didnt end well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sloeffle

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,845
Northern Maine
BTW, the current pandemic is driving a lot of folks up to the markets in central and Northern and rural Maine. Folks are getting away from the cities and picking up second homes using home equity and super low interest rates. This happened before and it didnt end well.

I truly believe they are panic buying only. They may drive the prices up for the short term but long term they will suffer a loss. They bought out of fear, not because they love the outdoors or the region and with all it has to offer unlike what many of us have done.
Market will shrink. They won't want to make the drive come Black Fly season and they better like the cold and snow! Summer is a 2 month season in the great north and mud season takes away another month. They will soon realize great restaurants choices are slim and sometimes none. There is not a lot of night life unless you make it or want to drive a while to get there.
The locals will not want the changes they want and I know they will not be very tolerant to the politics they drag with them.
Everyone I know is super busy and they have been for my 26 years up there. Word gets out really quickly on who you don't want to work for.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sloeffle

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,442
Downeast Maine
I agree, these folks won't want to be here long term. I expect the same houses that were just bought up will go right back on the market in a few years. The houses might end up rotting into the ground since they won't sell.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,845
Northern Maine
I agree, these folks won't want to be here long term. I expect the same houses that were just bought up will go right back on the market in a few years. The houses might end up rotting into the ground since they won't sell.
I'm seriously thinking about a crash and if I want to get back into the rental market again when it does for income property purposes. I did rather well in it.

Problem I am really struggling with is they were so quick to allow no evictions for non payment of rent and that hurts who??
 
  • Like
Reactions: moresnow

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
2,005
Marshall NC
This data is from 30 years ago when I lived in central Georgia. Plenty of farmers had gotten tired of plowing for corn, or their kids inherited and didn't want to farm at all.

The deal was, you got a 40 acre farm you plant it in Southern Yellow Pine. This is a prized tree and all the building supply places from Georgia to South Dakota stock pressure treated Southern Yellow Pine. It is uniquely strong wood, and it will take the pressure treating better than other woods.

I don't know how much it costs to plant 40 acres. Then, you wait 20 years, in which, you do nothing to your little forest. At 20 years you cut it, the pros come in and cut half or more of the trees, especially cutting the warped or weird looking trees, this is going for pulp wood.
Here again you do nothing the pros cut your trees. You get $1,000 an acre.

In 20 more years, you clear cut it and this is for timber. Once again, you get One Grand per acre, you do nothing except put the check in the bank.

How this would translate to Maine Yankee land I don't know. I guess SYP_wouldn't grow up there.
Plus, now that I think about it, demand for pulp wood must be down due to the collapse of printed newspapers.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,508
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I truly believe they are panic buying only. They may drive the prices up for the short term but long term they will suffer a loss. They bought out of fear, not because they love the outdoors or the region and with all it has to offer unlike what many of us have done.
Market will shrink. They won't want to make the drive come Black Fly season and they better like the cold and snow! Summer is a 2 month season in the great north and mud season takes away another month. They will soon realize great restaurants choices are slim and sometimes none. There is not a lot of night life unless you make it or want to drive a while to get there.
The locals will not want the changes they want and I know they will not be very tolerant to the politics they drag with them.
Everyone I know is super busy and they have been for my 26 years up there. Word gets out really quickly on who you don't want to work for.

That's my hope . . . my wife and I have talked about eventually moving to The County in our retirement years . . . and I can ATV and snowmobile to my heart's content.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SpaceBus

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,442
Downeast Maine
That's my hope . . . my wife and I have talked about eventually moving to The County in our retirement years . . . and I can ATV and snowmobile to my heart's content.
My wife wants land in the white mountains, I would rather buy in Maine.