Department offers reasons for timber management
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the average American will use the equivalency of tree a 100 feet tall and 18 inches in diameter for his or her wood and paper needs per year. This is just one reason that Mike Peterson, private land conservationist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, wants to spread awareness of timber management.
According to Peterson, 85 percent of the forest timber in this area is under private land ownership. As such, the Missouri Department of Conservation typically does not have access to manage those timber tracts. To gain access the Missouri Department of Conservation offers to partner with private landowners to mutual benefit.
"It's a renewable resource, there is value in it, and it helps wildlife, so it needs to be managed, and this is one way we do that," Peterson said.
Peterson explained that much of the timber in the surrounding area is not being managed, which means not only is the forest not doing as well as it could, but landowners could be losing potential value in timber harvesting as well.
"A lot of the stands down here are not managed so Mother Nature thins them out on its own, but you lose the value of that timber if you let her do it," Peterson said. "You have a bunch of species that are not of any value, and that is what we usually thin out depending on what your objectives are."
A great deal of what the Missouri Department of Conservation does in this area is called Timber Stinted Improvement (TSI). Under TSI the goal is to thin out timbered areas to allow desirable trees to grow healthier. However the Missouri Department of Conservation also seeks out land it calls Priority Forest Land.
The Elk River Watershed, which begins in Pineville and continues into Barry County, has been designated as Priority Forest Land.
"We target, as an agency, certain areas because of the limited resources we have available for our staff," Peterson said. "We pick an area out based on the data and models consolidated by our agency."
These areas are sought out because they are shown to be conducive to timber production. In certain instances the landowner may qualify for cost-share reimbursement.
"In our cost-share program we set aside a certain amount of dollars to help the landowner reach his management goals," Peterson said. "If a landowner is interested in participating we go out and evaluate the land, and we have certain practices that we use to help."
Peterson said, not everyone who applies will qualify, however those that do will volunteer to sign a 10-year contract to continue the management plan set up between the landowner and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
While smaller timber tracts can be managed, Peterson explained, 30- to 50-acre tracts are typically needed to produce enough timber for logging companies to invest.
"I probably talk to 30 to 50 people a year about their timber, and only around a half dozen get involved in the cost-share practice." Peterson said. "A major reason is because they do not see progress immediately."
For more information on timber management and cost-share reimbursement contact Mike Peterson at 847-5949.