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JULY 2015 News Conference for Forest Owners
Sponsored by the Alabama Forest Owners' Association, Inc.
This Conference was recorded on July 15, 2015.

to Listen to the
This conference is in .mp3 format, which is compatible with Windows Media Player and most other media devices.

Hayes D. Brown   Alabama Forest Owners' Association

Hayes D. Brown

starting time: (00:00)


Hayes D. Brown, attorney and forest owner, will moderate this news conference. Hayes' email address is

Click Here to View & Hear Prior News Conferences.


Marshall D. Thomas

Hear Conference


Proposed Tax-Code Changes Catastrophic for Small Landowners

Marshall Thomas is President of F & W Forestry Services, Inc., a a full-service consulting forestry company serving thousands of landowner clients in 11 states. Marshall recently wrote an article in The Forestry Source, June 2015, entitled Proposed Tax-Code Changes Catastrophic for Small Landowners.

In the article, Marshall lists three tax provisions of importance to small forest landowners that have been singled out by Congressional leaders for removal from the tax code:

  • capital gains
  • timber-growing expenses
  • reforestation expenses

He spells out the disaster these changes will be to small forest landowners with good numerical examples. He calls the results "fatal numbers."

Perhaps in an attempt to help lawmakers understand us better, Marshall points out the benefits to all Americans of private forest ownership:

     Because of the diverse reasons for ownership, and the different objectives of each owner, we have a very diverse forest landscape across the South—a wonderful mixture of native forest, plantations, and creeks.
     Within these forest types, some landowners thin their trees, some burn to control vegetation and improve wildlife habitat, and some just let the trees grow until they are ready to cut. Next time you are driving through a rural area of the South, take a look at the roadside forests, and you will see this diverse landscape.

Phone: (229) 883-0138


Matt Laschet

Hear Conference


Black Warrior Waterdog -- ESA Status

Matt Laschet is a Fish and Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), based in Daphne, Alabama. Matt called AFOA about a month ago and asked if we could help him present information about the Black Warrior Waterdog to forest landowners. The Black Warrior Waterdog is an aquatic salamander that lives within the Black Warrior River Basin in Alabama (Winston, Cullman, Walker, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Blount, and Fayette counties). The salamander has been proposed for listing as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

The Summary of Threats in the FWS Species Assessment and Listing Priority Assignment Form says,

Water quality degradation is the biggest threat to the continued existence of the Black Warrior waterdog. Populations are at risk due to impoundments, increased sedimentation, and pollution resulting from mining, forestry, agricultural activities, and industrial and residential sewage effluent. Low population densities and habitat fragmentation further threaten this species. We find that this species is warranted for listing throughout all its range, and, therefore, find that it is unnecessary to analyze whether it is threatened or endangered in a significant portion of its range.

In a conversation with Matt a few weeks ago, he hinted that the FWS might want landowners to voluntarily widen the Streamside Management Zones (SMZ) (pages 4 & 5) from 35 feet to 50 feet, a 43% increase. Since we understand that the sedimentation that is threatening the salamander today was deposited many years ago, we asked Matt to explain why an increase in the SMZ would be of any value.

A 43% increase in land (the best quality soils, in fact) substantially lost to production is a significant taking of private property with no mention of compensation by the federal government. Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran recently said, "While it is important to protect and preserve America's indigenous wildlife, such efforts should not create unnecessary and excessive economic hardships on people and surrounding communities." 

For further study: Alabama's Best Management Practices for Forestry

Phone: (251) 441-5842


Sonja N. Oswalt

Hear Conference


Ash Trees in Alabama Face Likely Threat

Sonja Oswalt is a Forest Resource Analyst with the USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. An e-Science Update written by Sonja, Status of Ash [Fraxinus  spp.] Species in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, 2013 (scroll to the second page for an Alabama map), was featured earlier this year in a CompassLive article, The Status of Ash Species in Selected Southern States. From that article we quote:

The emerald ash borer (EAB), an introduced Asian beetle species first detected in Michigan in 2002, has spread throughout the northeastern U.S. and into the southern states of Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Some stands of ash have experienced up to 99 percent mortality as a result of beetle infestation, impacting not only the ecology of the stands but also the economies of the states where infestations occur. Current locations of emerald ash borer infestations suggest that the beetle will eventually infest stands in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

We asked Sonja to tell us about the distribution and importance of the Ash species in Alabama and the problem posed by the Emerald Ash Borer. In her reply to our invitation she wrote:

I can’t predict whether EAB will become a dramatic problem in the state (although it is currently considered the “most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America” according to Michigan State professors, but I do think it will eventually reach Alabama, probably sooner rather than later. It was in Georgia in 2013, and was found in Louisiana in February of this year. It seems to be moving steadily southward every year. The counties infested in Georgia directly border Alabama, so in my opinion spread to Alabama is inevitable.

For Further Study:

Phone: (865) 862-2058


Miles L. Merwin

Hear Conference


Forestry Tour of Sweden & Norway

Miles Merwin, co-owner of Ridgeback Tree Farm near Portland, Oregon, is a member of the board of directors of the Oregon Woodland Co-op. Oregon Woodland Cooperative is a group of family forestland owners that helps its members market their timber and non-timber forest products, and improve their forest management through shared knowledge and practical skills. Miles and others have organized a Forestry Tour to Sweden and Norway and invite forest landowners from across the U.S. to travel with them.

Oregon Woodland Cooperative, Washington Co. Small Woodlands Association, and the Oregon State University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension have organized a tour to Scandinavia especially for small woodland owners. This educational tour will focus on private forestry in Sweden and Norway and the role of woodland owner cooperatives. We will meet private woodland owners and tour their tree farms, see harvesting equipment in action, and visit forestry companies, sawmills, equipment manufacturers, and forestry museums. In addition, tour participants will see and experience outstanding natural beauty in the farms, forests, mountains and fjords of Sweden and Norway, and enjoy the cultural highlights of the towns and cities along the way.

A View of Scandinavian Forestry Cooperatives
Forestry Tour to Sweden & Norway
May 27 – June 14, 2016

Deadline for reservations is October 1, 2015.

Phone: 1-888-800-1192


Erich Gnewikow

Hear Conference


Property Ownership Maps (see link update list below, 8/4/21)

Erich Gnewikow is a representative of onXmaps based in Missoula, Montana. We learned about onXmaps from an Alabama timber buyer who used it daily in his work to find the names of landowners and see property lines on his smart phone. The price for the entire state of Alabama was under $30 per year and they offer a seven day free trial. After downloading the Hunt app into an iPhone and playing with it for a few minutes, we contacted Erich and asked him to tell us about Property Ownership Maps and other products offered by his company. He wrote:

OnXmaps provides our customers with premium digital mapping software. We offer land ownership/Plat data available for your GPS/Computer and Mobile Device. We have 39 states available for our plug and play Micro SD chip and all 50 states available for our app.

Our SD chips have color-coded public land data, boat ramps, campgrounds, roads and trails, 1:24K topo plus much more. The Premium chips are state specific and include private landownership names and boundaries.

Our HUNT app covers all 50 states and is available for Android and IOS mobile devices which can be accessed through both Google Play store and the iTunes store. We are offering a 7 day free trial so you can try it before you buy it. Turn your phone into a GPS. With our app you have the ability to mark waypoints, create polygons and choose from 13 different basemaps that include satellite imagery, standard USGS topo, and more.

Cellular network coverage is NOT needed to use the HUNT App and the GPS functionality. Proprietary tile caching technology allows you to cache basemaps and all other key map layers for use when you are away from cellular network coverage or wi-fi.

One detail that sets us apart is our data acquisition team that insures we have the most up to date information for our customers. We frequently update our maps. With the purchase of our chip you will receive free updates for the rest of the year.

Additional resources.

Many of the links, above, are out of date: Here is a list of links as of 8/4/21:

Phone: (406) 540-1602


Dr. Jennie L. Stephens

Hear Conference


Center for Heirs' Property Preservation

Jennie Stephens is Executive Director of the Center for Heirs' Property Preservation, based in Charleston, South Carolina. Since there are many acres of heirs' property in Alabama, we invited Dr. Stephens to tell us about the work of the Center for Heirs' Property Preservation.

What is Heirs' Property?

In the Lowcountry, heirs’ property (HP) is mostly rural land owned by African Americans who either purchased or were deeded land after the Civil War. Historically, HP owners were routinely denied access to the legal system; could not afford to pay for legal services, and didn’t understand or trust the legal system. As a result, much of this land was passed down through the generations without the benefit of a written Will, or the Will was not probated within the 10 years required by SC law to make it valid – so the land became heirs’ property. Often the family members didn’t know that.

Heirs’ property is land owned “in common” (known as tenants in common) by all of the heirs, regardless of whether they live on the land; pay the taxes or have never set foot on the land.

"Our mission is to protect heirs’ property and promote its sustainable use to provide increased economic benefit to low-wealth families through education, legal services and forestry technical assistance."

Further reading and reference:

Phone: 1-866-657-2676


Dr. Jack Lutz

Hear Conference


Internal Rate of Return, Net Present Value, Present Value

Jack Lutz is Principal and Forest Economist of the Forest Research Group and and has over 25 years of experience in timberland investments in academic, industry, research and consulting positions. You have probably made legal pad analyses of your land and forestry investments, but using the calculating power in programs like Excel spreadsheets or Texas A&M Forest Service's Timberland Decision Support System may have seemed too complicated or confusing. To clear away a little of the fog, we asked Dr. Lutz to help us understand the terms Internal Rate of Return (IRR), Net Present Value (NPV) and Present Value (PV). In IRR vs. NPV, Forest Research Notes, Volume 8, Number 1, First Quarter, 2011, Jack wrote:

Timberland owners are constantly facing questions of which investment will be the best to make. Genetically improved seedlings will grow faster and produce higher volumes (or earlier harvests) than "unimproved" seedlings, but they cost more. Fertilizing a stand at age 3 will improve growth rates, but it costs something to apply that fertilizer....The question of which method to use in making capital budgeting decisions has filled whole volumes of the financial and economic literature. Here we present a short history and a quick review of current thinking.

Jack's Program Notes

Phone: (978) 432-1794


Dr. Joseph Dahlen

Hear Conference


Strength of Lumber Result of Growing Conditions and Market Forces

Joe Dahlen is an Assistant Professor of Wood Quality and Forest Products at the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. "His research focuses on applying and developing technologies to measure, manage and improve the physical, mechanical, and chemical properties of wood from managed forests." In the introductory or background paragraphs of Strength Parameters of Lumber Sawn from Loblolly Pine Plantations in Georgia's Coast Plain, Joe and co-authors Richard Daniels and Dale Hogg wrote:

     On June 1, 2013, the Board of Governors of the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) updated the design values for all sizes and grades of visually graded Southern Pine lumber. The new (lower) design values were based on destructive testing of full-size visually graded lumber. The lumber was randomly selected across the South from commercially produced Southern Pine lumber.
     Two popular theories surfaced to explain the reduction in design values. First, many believed increased growth rates due to genetics, herbicide use, and fertilization decreased wood density. The decrease in lumber strength was directly associated with the perceived decrease in wood density. Another popular theory attributed the decreased lumber strength to increased proportions of juvenile wood. This increased juvenile wood content was driven by chipn- saw mills producing more lumber from small-diameter trees. During the Recession, landowners reduced final harvest of mature stands and increased first and second thinning of younger stands. This theory concluded that lumber strength decreased due to the increased harvest of younger and smaller-diameter trees. SPIB could not substantiate either theory, because the source of the trees producing the lumber was unknown.

In an email response to our non-scientific conclusion that market conditions had caused southern pine lumber to be weaker, because small chip-n-saw logs had become the primary source of southern pine lumber during the recession, Joe wrote:

     I don't think you can just say that market conditions were the sole reason why southern pine wood is now "weaker" than what has been harvested in the past.
     There is a relatively large body of evidence that suggests that wood grown in plantations is weaker than wood grown in natural stands. However the reason isn't a natural vs. plantation wood production per se but is largely attributed to the amount of juvenile vs. mature wood that exists in each of the stands based on the targeted rotation ages, as well as the impact that spacing & management plays on the branches.
     ... another study that was conducted by International Paper that compared several stand ages and management: Impact of Age and Site Index on Lumber Quality from Intensively Managed Stands, Southern Regional Extension Forestry.
     This is a complicated issue... We are still working on assessing the impacts of silviculture on the wood quality from these stands; when this is completed we will have a better picture of how we can manipulate wood quality through silviculture.

Phone: (706) 583-0464



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