Thursday, January 10, 2019

Good fences make good neighbors

I happen to know some senior citizens who own some swamp land. There are trees growing in the swamp. Many of them are ash. Most of the ash died and the wind blew them over after the roots rotted.

The senior citizens have a neighbor who has been very helpful. He is a likeable guy.

The neighbor asked permission to cut the dead ash to heat his home.

The senior citizens know that I have a computer and printer and they asked me to type out the following conditions.

There is a wealth of expertise residing in my readers. Did they miss anything?

The picture in my head is that Dick (not his real name) will cut the logs into manageable lengths and winch them onto a lowboy trailer. I don't see the project taking very long.

Then he will buck to length and split on his own property. 
Conditions around cutting wood at the swamp:

· This permission is only extended to Dick Cissel. Dick may not extend it to anybody else.
· This permission is for a limited time, January 15-to-February 15, 2019
· An adult identified by the owners must be on-site when the cutting and loading is done to ensure safety and the presence of another adult with a cell phone.
· No drinking alcohol before, while cutting or while loading or transporting firewood
· No guns are permitted while wood is being cut and loaded.
· Wood is for personal use and not for resale
· Only windfalls may be harvested. The most dangerous part of cutting wood is felling trees.
· Harvesting of wood is to be done when the ground is frozen so trucks and trailers don’t tear up the ground.
· A meeting with the owners must be held before hand.
· An agreement must be signed that outlines these conditions. Signing agreement means you are willing to abide by the conditions
· Time of chain-sawing must be limited to three hours a day. Tired cutters get sloppy and have accidents.


  1. I wouldn't word it exactly like that, but that should work. I'd also add a hold harmless to the property owner.

    1. Thank-you. That is EXACTLY the kind of thing I am looking for.

  2. I was going to say, logger assumes all risks and agrees to hold Property Owner harmless. You might also put in something regarding responsibilities for damage to property improvements such as fences, gates, culverts, and a phrase noting that the wood is to be harvested in a workmanlike manner, bucked into manageable lengths and hauled off for processing into fireplace logs. What is to happen to the associated debris? It would be good to see it consolidated into a burn pile in the middle of a clear area, say with 50 ft clear perimeter free of of any woody or brush vegetation. Or alternatively, the debris could be either chipped or hauled off.

  3. I sent this out to anyone thinking about a sale. Most landowners don't have any experience selling timber, so they usually benefit from a little help.


    Obtain the assistance of a professional forester. Use either your District Forester with the Illinois Department of Natural resources or a private consultant. Beware of timber buyers who refer to themselves as consultants. Check credentials and ask for references.

    Know what you are selling. You need to know your tree species, board foot volume and tree quality. A forester can do an inventory of your woods and measure and mark the trees to be sold. District Foresters are not allowed to appraise timber or act as a landowner’s agent. Consulting foresters can be directly involved in advertising your timber for bids.

    Have a written contract for the sale. Most consultants use contracts developed by an attorney in order to protect both the buyer and seller. Beware of contracts offered by timber buyers.

    Obtain several sealed bids for your timber. Your forester will assist you or handle this step for you. Do not look at the bids ahead of time or discuss other buyer’s offers with potential bidders. Sell only to licensed and bonded timber buyers. Require payment when the contract is signed.

    Plan the sale to protect and enhance the forest that is left after the harvest. Work with your forester to develop a plan to guide your management activities for the next five to ten years. You may need to do timber stand improvement, tree planting, or other cultural practices.

    Don’t sell to an unlicensed timber buyer! Unlicensed buyers have no bond!

    Don’t sell unless everything is in writing. (Number of trees, how they are marked, purchase price, time period of contract, acceptable logging conditions, damage liability)

    Don’t sell unmarked trees. Loggers frequently tell landowners that the forester missed trees that should come out, or convince landowners to let them cut damaged trees. Once you give them the go-ahead, there is no stopping them.

    Don’t sell on the spur of the moment. Once you make a deal you can’t back up. Beware of buyers who try to hurry you.

    Don’t sell trees on a diameter limit. The condition, not the size of the tree should be the determining factor.

    Don’t sell only your best trees. Selling only the best trees downgrades the genetics and long- term productivity of your timber.

    Don’t sell “cut and scale” or on “shares”. There are many ways these two methods can be used to lessen the share paid to the landowner.

    Don’t accept cash. This method may be used to entice you into selling quickly, before you know what you are selling.

    Don’t enter into a management agreement giving a company rights to your timber.

    Don’t include trees damaged during the logging. This sounds logical, but once it starts, trees will probably be damaged on purpose. Your forester pays attention to potential damage problems as he tallies your trees, and has probably included trees that have the potential to be damaged by the felling of other trees.


    1. Description of area and designation of timber sold 7. Liability coverage
    2. Sale price and method of payment 8. Contract assignment
    3. 4% timber harvest fees 9. Buyer’s right of access
    4. Title guarantee 10. Method of arbitration
    5. Penalties for breach of contract or 11. Effective and termination date
    damage to remaining timber, crops 12. Witnessed signature of buyer and seller
    or other property
    6. Protection of special areas such as springs,
    wetlands, stream banks and other assets

  4. I would want to know the cutter's chainsaw qualifications. Require the cutter to wear chaps, sturdy boots and a hard hat with ear and face protection.

  5. It strikes me as sad that the days of being neighborly and honorable seem to be disappearing. I've done things like this on a handshake and trust. I still would. Maybe naieve, but we get the world that we create.

    1. My list is meant for sales, not free downed wood, but it might have a few lines that are useful for Joe. Safety is a huge concern. I don't want anyone getting hurt cutting wood on my ground. Lawyers know how to draw up a lawsuit and they are not afraid to do it. We have a limited number of trustworthy hunters we allow on our ground and we jealously guard our boundaries for their benefit as well as ours. Renegade firewood cutters will often move in where they see someone else cutting, so the phone calls from your friends who are allowed to cut are extremely important.

    2. Part of the back story is that one of the senior citizens is a worrier. And the insurance company makes threatening noises about attractive nuisances.

      As David mentioned, one of the concerns is if Dick is cutting then all the neighbors will think the property is fair game to cut wood on. Having Dick comment on all of the conditions he had to meet is not a bad thing.

  6. I would specify exactly who is allowed to be on the property and cut or handle the wood - preferably, Dick himself would be there all the time. As mentioned above, specify hold harmless and damage to fences, etc. I would also specify when in the day cutting is allowed - at a minimum daylight hours only, maybe 9 am to 4 pm or even tighter limits.
    I would also, as mentioned above, specify what to do with the tops/ branches/ other unwanted debris.
    You mentioned moving lengths off the property to be cut elsewhere - sometimes this is NOT the best option, especially with rough wintry ground, so make sure Dick is on board with that and it is laid out if you want that to be done. Personally, in icy snowy conditions I don't want to mess with a trailer if I can avoid it, so I prefer to cut rounds and fill the back of a truck instead.

  7. re:
    Swamp Ash

    This wood is highly-desirable for musical instruments such as guitars.

    Before consuming it in a fireplace, could an examination by guitar manufacturers provide a different sum to your sellers?


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