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Archived 2017 News, Issues & Information


(12/28/17) A deep freeze warning is in effect for the southeast. You should "...avoid tree planting 48 hours prior to the onset of these predicted, dangerously low temperatures, especially where lows are expected to dip below 25°F." Check here for the forecasted lows and advice on planting if you must plant during or just before a freeze event.

(12/27/17) "Owning this farm has really changed my life." This school teacher manages his inherited forestland with a Christmas tree farm alongside sensible forestry practices. Watch if you've considered growing Christmas trees on your land.

(12/22/17) The Farm Bureau has a summary of the changes coming with the new tax legislation. They note: “…taxpayers should work with their tax advisors to see if there are steps that should be taken before year end in preparation for the new law.” Barfield Murphy Shank & Smith, LLC lay out a summary of key provisions here and details of the changes for individuals here. In addition, the AFOA newsletter coming next week will feature a more focused look at provisions of special interest from Henry Barclay, III, CPA.

(12/21/17) According to the Tribune, “Sales of fresh grass-fed beef soared from $17 million in 2012 to $272 million just four years later.” Although grass-fed operations operate with limitations like higher costs and slower production, this might be interesting if you're a forest owner considering cattle, especially silvopasture methods.

(12/20/17) “...if the lower courts’ decisions stands, the [U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service] could pick any plot of private land anywhere in the United States, designate it a “critical habitat” regardless of whether an endangered species actually lives there and then tell the landowner exactly how the land is to be used.”

(12/19/17) In this helpful video, Reforestation Advisor Geoffrey Lee Hill shares some great tips on how to maximize survivability of your seedling investment.

(12/18/17) “And the great thing about our program is some of the extracurricular activities can now count toward credit for a student to graduate. We want our students to pick a career that they’re passionate about. If they’re passionate about it, they’ll be successful.” University of Montevallo students can now create custom, career-track degrees to help them succeed in outdoors-based careers.

(12/14/17) Results of the property tax votes that were held on December 12:
Madison County voters approved a property tax for schools.
Tallapoosa County voters rejected a tax measure on the ballot.
Lowndes County voters renewed the tax on their ballot.
Baldwin County voters approved the tax measure on that ballot

(12/13/17)) Know a dibble bar from an increment borer. This “Glossary of Common Forestry Terms” by Dr. David Mercker for the University of Tennessee extension is a “handy guide to terminology used in reference to growing and harvesting trees.

(12/12/17) This extension video project wants input on how to highlight private forest lands around the nation. This is your chance to tell the public and other landowners about the value of private forest land and private forest ownership to our region and the nation. You might mention how rare the unfettered right to manage forestland is in the world and even in major portions of North America.

(12/11/17)For many standalone wood-fired electricity plants [nearly all of which are government subsidized], the cost of fuel (wood chips) and operations exceed what they get paid for the electricity they generate.” As forest owners look to replace pulpwood markets, they should be cautious about biomass. This video discusses challenges for the forest industry in Maine, some of which will sound familiar, like shortages of experienced loggers and softwood mills.

(12/7/17) "Tax planning is rarely easy, but this year it is especially difficult due to the potential for sweeping tax reforms." This 2017 Year-End Tax Planning Letter from JamisonMoneyFarmer PC can help you prepare for your year-end tax planning decision.

(12/6/17)A Texas-based solar power company is eyeing two sites in Colbert County for a solar power farm. … Two sites are up for consideration: one east of Leighton and one in the Cherokee area.” Even if the proposed sites aren’t on your land, you might want to ask whether transmission lines could affect forest productivity or trespass on your forestland.

(12/5/17) Voters in Lowndes and Madison Counties will make a property tax decision on the December 12 ballot. Read more about the $58 million Madison County initiative here, and about the$770,000 one in Lowndes County here.

(12/1/17) For now, President Trump has kept the ban on importing elephant trophies. For another angle, read this article from PERC’s Terry Anderson on the issue of elephant hunting from a property rights and community-based resource management perspective.

(11/30/17) Aside from the US Senate race, Limestone, Morgan, Montgomery, and Baldwin Counties have issues on the ballot December 12. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Thursday, December 7, and Monday, December 11, 2017 is the last day to postmark an absentee ballot. Apply for an absentee ballot here. Find your polling place here.

(11/29/17) As part of forest fire prevention, Israel may "reintroduce the black goat, also known as the Syrian goat, into the country’s forests, woodlands and nature reserves as a way to regulate natural vegetation...after banning them from grazing there almost 70 years ago."

(11/28/17)Giving now can also be a savvy tax move for families with substantial wealth because both the present value and any potential future growth of the transferred assets are removed from your taxable estate. … although the IRS generally doesn’t care when you make a major gift, the timing can make a big difference to your heirs.”

(11/27/17) Watch a video demonstration that showcases forest uses of this portable winch that you can carry in a backpack.

(11/22/17) "The Appalachian Forest Farming Coalition … has been busy creating a variety of video presentations and hosting a number of workshops this year.” You might start with "What is forest farming," for an overview. Their 9-video playlist also includes information about specific crops and interviews with practicing forest farmers for those interested in forest farming as a potential revenue stream on their land.

(11/21/17) If you missed this on the AFOA calendar, you can watch full videos of presentations from the Shortleaf Pine Conference held in October 2017.

(11/20/17) The conversation about this mechanical exoskeleton technology starts with manufacturing, but at about the 2 minutes and 45 seconds mark, Varney asks whether he could use it on his tree farm. It could perhaps help with repetitive forest management tasks – tree planting and pruning, for example.

(11/16/17) Our thoughts are with the family of a Jefferson County teen who died in a hunting-related accident this week. Whether you hunt or lease your land to hunters, please remember to practice the utmost safety in the woods this season.

(11/14/17) Drone tree planting isn't feasible yet, but some people already use direct seeding after a fire. Louisiana Forest Seed Company can help you with products and information on this technique if you’re interested. See their listing in the classified section of our newsletter (in bottom half of right column, page 2).

(11/13/17) "While clients may see timber as an inflation hedge, it's also a global growth industry." This article discusses the two timber Exchange Traded Funds we report on each month in the AFOA newsletter (top of the middle column, page 2).

(11/10/17) A taste of the discussion on the repeal of the death tax included eloquent statements from Rep. Kristi Noem and Rep. Mike Kelly. There’s more than these clips, if you are interested. Be sure to watch if the estate tax might affect your family.

(11/09/17) Is capitalism a farmer's best friend? Perhaps, and a forest owner's too. Here is a partial list of conveniences we have thanks to private industry:

  • Laser and sonic distance measuring tools
  • Online ownership maps
  • Aerial imagery from satellites, planes, and drones
  • GPS & GIS smartphone technology
  • 4-wheel drive pickups
  • Near universal phone service
  • Genetically improved seedlings - many sources
  • Stumpage price services
  • Hunting land lease services
  • Timber buyer lists
  • Landowner educational events
  • Herbicides for many uses
  • Online tutorials for everything
  • Insect monitoring flights

(11/8/17) "But one of the benefits of private property rights is it encourages people to become better informed about the decisions that affect them directly." This PERC article examines how the exercise of eminent domain increases conflict between business interests, property rights, and conservation.

(11/7/17) Many would be surprised to learn that the softwood lumber industry employs more people than oil and gas extraction (181,430 jobs) or primary steel manufacturing (140,200 jobs). The US Commerce Department has finalized anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports, but these tariffs must be approved by the International trade Commission to go into effect.

(11/6/17)At the peak of the season this year, toward the end of September, brokers paid up to $2.50 per pound of berries.” Resourceful way to make money on a native plant you might have on your own land.

(11/3/17) According to an update from the American Forest Foundation, the draft proposal for tax reform legislation includes these forest-related provisions:

  • Maintain deductions for regular forest management expenses.
  • Maintain deductions for and amortization of reforestation expenses after harvest.
  • Maintain the capital gains treatment of harvested timber.
  • Reduce the estate tax burden; maintain stepped-up basis, even with estate tax repeal. Estate tax exemption levels are doubled from $5.5M per spouse ($11M total) to $11M per spouse ($22M total). The estate tax will be fully repealed after six years. After repeal, the stepped-up basis on inheritances will be preserved.

(11/2/17) We are saddened by this industry news of alleged fraud at Boatright Railroad Products, Inc., formerly Seaman Timber Company. Members might remember tours at this facility when it was owned by longtime AFOA friends Jan and Jim Seaman, and again at the 2017 Annual Meeting after Stella Jones purchased the plant.

(11/1/17) The article runs a little long, but the point at the bottom is important for keeping hunting alive in Alabama. "Simplify hunting laws: Research shows that overly-complex rules and regulations negatively impact hunting participation, so simplifying these rules would encourage greater participation."

(10/31/17) Identify the spiders of Alabama with this slideshow that can give you a head start on learning about the Alabama's Arthropods—including awesome arachnids—at one of these Master Naturalist programs in either Crenshaw or Tallapoosa County.

(10/30/17) Some positive news in this Forest Research Note, but note that his data on timberland returns assume well-managed, industrial forest land as a starting point.

(10/27/17)Everybody else is using boxes and bags...” Uh-oh, what is Amazon up to now? “With these … they’re gonna rule everything from the refrigerator to the freezer to the cupboard to the closet.”

(10/26/17)We are selling sawtimber trees for roughly the same price that we did in the 1980s...We are surviving like computer manufacturers--by reducing the cost of production.” The F&W Forestry Report includes third quarter stumpage reports, news on tax reform and Canadian softwood, and a look at how tree growers are surviving in today’s market.

(10/25/17)The days of regulation through litigation are over”—at least at the EPA. Director Scott Pruitt ended the practice in a directive issued this month. Can Endangered Species Act "sue and settle" lawsuits be stopped, too?

(10/24/17) “By 2050, more than 600,000 houses are expected to be built in areas at a very high risk of wildfire.” Out west, one community was saved by forest-thinning efforts just months before a wildfire came through, but much of the west is still a “powder keg.” Alabama landowners and home owners should also remain aware of the dangers of building in dense forest without taking measures to prepare for eventual wildfire. Or this could happen here, too.

(10/23/17) If you missed it at the annual meeting, this Discovering Alabama episode covers the important relationship between private landowners and consulting foresters. Catch it this Sunday on APT. You can also set a reminder or download teaching guides for the Discovering Alabama program.

(10/20/17) These videos show two more forest careers for those who love the outdoors: "Tonight I could be out mist-netting, surveying bats, and tomorrow we might be putting prescribed burn on the ground," says Allison Cochran, Wildlife Biologist with the US Forest Service. "A forest engineer makes sure things get from Point A to Point B in a working forest," says Mary Castle, Forest Engineer.

(10/19/17) "It's either we burn it, or it's going burn on its own.” In Florida, Parks and Natural Resources crews are conducting a prescribed burn at Tippecanoe Environmental Park. They cited concerns about extra debris from Irma as one of the reasons for the burn. Here in Alabama, the casualties of last year’s drought might be cause for similar concern.

(10/18/17) "A former volunteer firefighter will spend time on probation and pay fines after he pleaded guilty to setting three fires in central Alabama...including two vacant houses and one woodlands fire."

(10/17/17) "SmartAsset's interactive map highlights the counties with the highest net wealth across the country." You can see the top ten list or scroll over to view details of the net wealth of each Alabama County.

(10/16/17) Spotting timber theft, insect and disease outbreaks, hurricane or tornado damage, tracking planned timber harvests, are just a few of the uses forest owners might have for daily imagery. If you know how to use Planet’s satellite imaging technology, please contact AFOA at RLL@afoa.org.

(10/13/17)I’ve seen the housing market go up and down, but demand (for real wood) doesn’t seem to fluctuate.” Another way to make a living in the forest industry: this specialty sawmill delivers custom cuts of high grade wood.

(10/12/17) Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has devastating economic effects on deer hunting. The deer hunting industry results in $1.8 billion in annual revenues for the State of Alabama. States where CWD occurs have experienced a 10-40 percent decrease in license sales. Roughly 5,000 of AFOA’s members lease their land for hunting, so measures to keep CWD out of Alabama are important to many who aren’t hunters themselves.

(10/11/17)Alabama’s forest industry has been a large and consistent source of new capital investment.” Read more about the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and their efforts to “attract, retain, and grow” businesses, including markets for Alabama timber.

(10/10/17) These free workshops teach students and their parents "the proper techniques that include the use of trapping as a sound wildlife management tool."  The first class is Nov. 4-5, so sign your trapper up soon. 

(10/9/17)7))) In this Q&A, Robert Crosby discusses what the Softwood Lumber Agreement means for private landowners: “So, while the Canadian mills are seeing record profits in their Canadian and U.S.-owned sawmills, U.S. landowners … including those who own the asset in their pension accounts, are seeing one of the worst markets in modern times.”

(10/6/17) Two more forest-related career options for young people interested in natural resources, working outdoors, and a job doing something different every day. The two young men in these videos are foresters, one working for the government and the other on his own as a consulting forester.

(10/5/17) Baldwin County will vote on a 1 mill property tax on December 12, on the same ballot as the US Senate race. “The current 1 mill tax requiring 60 percent approval was first passed in March 1988 and expired at the end of fiscal year 2016-17. By allowing it to expire, the county can ask voters to replace it with a 1 mill tax under a different amendment to the Alabama Constitution, which requires only a simple majority.”

(10/4/17) A Forest Service study compared water use of loblolly pine and eucalyptus, and some landowners might be pleasantly surprised to learn that “Because of Eucalyptus’ greater water use efficiency, it actually used less water than loblolly pine to produce the same amount of woody biomass.”

(10/3/17) If you own a brushcutter, chainsaw, or other gas-powered, small-engine machines, you may already know about the problems small engines have with ethanol. You can sign a petition here to end the federal ethanol mandate. Listen to a discussion of some of the problems with ethanol by sawmill owner Craig Blake on our Capital Ideas—Live! webcast.

(10/2/17)A movement called forest farming is emerging to grow [medicinal plants] in private forestland to decrease strains on plant populations and strengthen the market for Appalachian botanicals.” Check this calendar for available training if forest farming might be a good fit for your land.

(9/29/17) This article looks at the idea that “the [state and local] tax deduction redistributes income from people in low-tax states to people in high-tax states.” The idea is that between two people in different states with equal income, one in New York will get a larger deduction than one in Alabama for state and local taxes paid, and that this amounts to more money paid by low-tax states to the federal government. 

(9/28/17) CNN reported this week on "a Republican framework for tax reform that has been in the works for months." Notable for forest owners among the provisions outlined is the proposed repeal of the estate tax.

(9/27/17) Forestry Pilot Dale Hill believes that with dedication and hard work, anyone can have a career as a forestry pilot. “We strive hard to take care of the environment and be good stewards of the land,” he says in this video in the Forestry Works series.

(9/26/17) Tyler Slay is twenty-one and owns his own sustainable forestry business. He got his start by talking to loggers, who were glad to help him succeed. If you know a young person who is interested in an outdoor career and being their own boss, this video shows how Tyler got started in the business.

(9/25/17)Alabama's Underwater Forest was featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt Sunday night …The forest appears to be a wholly unique relic of our planet's past, the only known site where a coastal ice age forest this old has been preserved in place…” Read more at al.com and watch the NBC segment or view the Alabama-produced documentary in full.

(9/22/17)Landowners’ bottom lines are tied to stewardship practices that balance land sustainability and economic viability.” To highlight conservation efforts on privately owned working lands, the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) collected case studies that highlight “examples of ranchers, farmers, and timber producers managing their properties with a conviction for conservation.”

(9/21/17) On September 25 at 2 pm EST, the American Forest Foundation (AFF) Farm Bill Report, a conference call with AFF CEO Tom Martin, will discuss the Farm Bill and AFF's plan of action for the reauthorization process. Dial-in number: 1-866-299-7945 and Participant code: 2594# You can count on the AFF to make sure legislators hear their point of view, so if you have a different opinion about the government assistance, call your U.S. House (202-225-3121) and Senate (202-224-3121) members, or email via this site, to make sure they hear your perspective

(9/20/17) If you’re planning to vote in next week’s run-off election on the 26th, you can check out Roy Moore’s positions here, and can read about Luther Strange’s position on issues that affect landowners here.

(9/19/17)Conecuh Ridge Distiller has announced its plan to open a $13.6 million [interactive] distillery in Troy, Alabama.” You can read an amusing review of the whiskey here, which mentions that in 2004, "the Alabama legislature…passed a joint resolution declaring Conecuh Ridge to be 'Alabama’s Official State Spirit.'" The articles don’t mention the barrels for the whiskey, but the new demand should maintain demand (and prices) for quality white oak stumpage. Read more about white oak barrels and listen to our interview with Bob Russell, head of procurement at the Jack Daniel Stave Mill.

(9/18/17) These PowerPoint presentations from the Florida Forestry Association have insights about different aspects of the forest industry and timber markets. John Pait’s presentation is hosted by Dropbox and requires a log in, but the others download from the site. You can also see video of several speakers from the AFOA annual meeting here.

(9/14/17) "The role of family forest owners is more important than ever. Unfortunately, these families also face a unique situation that is often overlooked by current tax policy." The treatment of forest income as capital gains and tax breaks for reforestation and forest management are both at risk in upcoming tax reform. Read more about what this means for private landowners.

(9/13/17) For anyone in the hurricane paths, a quick guide to timber casualty losses.

(9/12/17) The first topic here is especially important to forest landowners: “Republican lawmakers are pursuing a revamp of the corporate and individual tax systems. … The road to a final legislative tax reform will be bumpy, and we need to remain engaged to ensure that forest landowners’ unique needs are protected.” AFOA does not write letters to legislators; it’s important that you write these letters to your representatives and senators to ensure that your voice is heard.

(9/11/17) For those who hunt on their land or lease land for hunting, QDMA offers this suggestion for planting or updating a food plot: "Clover is relatively easy to establish, readily available, affordable, and there are a variety of species to handle most any climate or soil type. To put it simply, clovers are a very versatile deer forage."

(9/7/17) The latest on Canadian softwood: "Canadian softwood lumber producers are getting a temporary reprieve as a large portion of preliminary duties in place for four months have ended pending a final decision." Interestingly, just like in the US, privately owned Canadian forests are more productive than publicly owned forestland.

(9/6/17) You might find some good ideas for building on forest land from this rammed-earth home that was designed to survive wildfire. If you’d like to know more about rammed-earth homes, you can still visit these rammed-earth homes built in Trussville, Alabama in the 1930s.

(9/5/17) "Hunter orange saves lives." Good advice for non-hunters in the woods during hunting seasons as well.

(9/1/17) Richard Louv, who coined the term “nature deficit disorder,” has a new book about getting back to nature as a family: Vitamin N is a “guidebook for the whole family and the wider community, including tips not only for parents eager to share nature with their kids but also for those seeking nature-smart schools, medical professionals, and even careers.”

(8/31/17) Hunters are the original locavores. The book Living the Locavore Lifestyle: Hunting, Fishing, Gathering Wild Fruit and Nuts, Growing a Garden, and Raising Chickens toward a More Sustainable and Healthy Way of Living is a resource for harvesting and cultivating “nature’s bounty” close to home, whether you live on rural land or not.

(8/30/17)Average annual net growth for softwood species is 48.7 million tons and for hardwood species it is 18.3 million tons.” The Forest Resource Report, courtesy of Dan Chappell, shows that Alabama’s forests continue to thrive alongside a healthy forest industry. Both timber land owners and industry leaders might find a great deal of interest here, such as a breakdown by species of standing timber inventory in each county.

(8/29/17) The President’s Outdoor Scholars Program at the University of Montevallo is a scholarship program for outdoors-minded students who might not qualify for traditional scholarships and are interested in careers in natural resources, with an emphasis on conservation and game management. The successful program recently won the Conservation Educator of the Year Award from the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

(8/28/17)Pacific Legal Foundation Senior Attorney Mark Miller joins Andy Caldwell to discuss the federal government’s unprecedented designation of private property as ‘critical habitat’ for a species that isn’t found there, and for which the property isn’t usable in any case.” Read more about the baffling decision here. If the audio does not begin automatically, click the round red button at the upper left of the page.

(8/26/17) This company’s grilling planks from a variety of woods were featured in an article in Independent Sawmill and Woodlot Management magazine, July 2017. This video shows how to use a wood plank to add flavor to grilled food.

(8/24/17) A prescribed burn can help protect your home if it's on forested land. Click to read about one couple's decision to burn, and see breathtaking photos of the burn.

(8/23/17)Timber losses may be significant,” said the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) of the current outbreak of southern pine beetle. “This summer, we have seen a large number of trees dying across our state’s pine forests, and the culprit is southern pine beetle. In Montgomery County, AFC foresters have aerially detected over 100 beetle spots.” Landowners are encouraged to monitor their land for damage and seek the advice of a consulting forester on the management of this pest. View the current map of known SPB spots here.

*8/22/17)Google.org is giving the 4-H club a $1.5 million grant to help teach its 6 million members about computer science.” The initiative includes lessons designed to emphasize real-world issues and career applications, such as “weather modeling for agriculture projects or using an e-textile application in 4-H sewing clubs.”

(8/21/17) Alabama got a mention on a “list of 12 states that offer the most favorable tax breaks for retirees, in a recent ranking by personal finance website Money and Career CheatSheet.” States were ranked not just on income tax, but on a variety of levies that affect retires’ finances.

(8/17/17) The Alabama Forestry Commission's employee newsletter reports that emerald ash borers spread to Alabama: “…now ash trees are dead and dying. Auburn University’s Plant Diagnostic Lab has confirmed that sample insects taken from both Calhoun and Talladega County ash trees are emerald ash borer larvae, Agrilus planipennis." For further reading, see the AFOA webcast on the topic and general information from the Southern Forest Health website.

(8/16/17)Cogongrass can spell disaster for native plants once it takes hold.” See how and why cogongrass is such a deadly threat to Alabama’s ecosystems, and learn steps to prevent the spread of this vicious invasive to your land.

(8/15/17) Canada-based Irving Consumer Products has announced plans for a $400 million paper plant in Macon, Georgia. The plant will produce tissue, toilet paper, and other paper products, and “plans to hire 200 at the new complex.”

(8/14/17) In Mississippi, “242 suspected southern pine beetle spots were identified on privately owned forestland during [monitoring] flights. According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than 3,500 southern pine beetle infestation spots were found in the Homochitto, Bienville, Tombigbee and Holly Springs National Forests.” AFOA would ask whether there’s something different about national forest management that could explain a difference of this magnitude.

(8/11/17) This new app uses a crowdsourced database of photos to identify any plant or animal. “In some cases, it’ll nail a particular species,” but often it will offer a more general ID with photos of possible species. Click here for the app website. Source: Wednesday Woodland Word, 8/9/17

(8/10/17) "...valuable environmental benefits are largely underwritten by the investments of private landowners over decades, and in most cases are provided to the public for free."

(8/9/17) "A military official in the Indonesian province of Jambi said Saturday he has ordered that anyone who deliberately sets fire to forest areas be shot, as authorities struggle to contain fires that cause choking smoke in the region."

(8/8/17) "Why would Audubon allow drilling on its own sanctuaries but oppose it elsewhere? The answer, in short, is property rights. Private ownership creates incentives that often lead to more reasonable outcomes than in the political arena."

(8/7/17) This article includes diagrams and photos of a hiking trail bridge built by volunteers in the town of Groton, Mass. for about $200. The simple but sturdy design and cost might be attractive to landowners looking to improve their trails.

(8/4/17) A message about the Endangered Species Act to the House Committee on Natural Resources, from selected members of Congress: We ask that your Committees work together to address the numerous regulatory inefficiencies and statutory roadblocks in the agriculture community by modernizing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and similarly outdated laws and regulations. These much-needed updates would ease the stranglehold on farmers and ranchers who often face the brunt of these job-killing mandates.

(8/3/2017) As hunting seasons begin, be aware of when hunters might be on your land and dress for safety. More information on hunting seasons and regulations can be viewed here.

(8/2/17) "The evidence is clear: Increases in removals are associated with more timberland acres, better growth, and larger inventories." Page 5 of the Executive Summary of this Forest2Market report has great information about demand and forest productivity, presented in a short, readable format.

(8/1/17) According to this article, Best Management Practices for Water Quality (BMP) "programs appear to be implemented at relatively high levels across the U.S.” regardless of the level of regulation imposed by the state. The Alabama Forestry Commission lays out BMPs for managing pollutants from forest management in easy-to read sections on their website.

(7/31/17)Making your land pay for itself is an important goal to help keep your land in the family for generations to come." One landowner accountant shares her family’s strategies for making sure their land pays for itself and stays in the family.

(7/28/17)Forest bathing” is the latest name for an idea forest owners know well: spending time in the forest is good for us. Author Richard Louv wrote about this idea in two books about the benefits of nature. Listen here to AFOA’s interview with Louv in 2011 about his books that discuss the evidence that time in the forest provides real benefits for the mind and body.

(7/27/17) Prior to planting seedlings, an operation known as subsoiling, breaking up the ground before planting, should be performed to shatter the compaction pan associated with past agricultural practices. This video discusses when and how to consider subsoiling on your land.

(7/26/17) Forester Bob Williams shared this story about “collaborative behavior from former antagonists” in New Jersey: “The New Jersey Audubon used to be opposed to forest management, but that changed as they started seeing greater abundance of rare and threatened species in treated areas.”

(7/25/17) Swiss researchers have developed a new lightweight construction material "combining wood and concrete to create a load-bearing concrete consisting of mostly wood…The new combination of wood and concrete acts as a thermal insulator and also offers flame retardance…The material is also suitable for slab and wall elements and can offer a load-bearing function in construction.”

(7/24/17) Dr. John Auel, Professional Logging Manager Program Coordinator, discusses best management practices with landowners at a 2016 County Forestry Association Field Day. Note: After the introduction, the content begins around the one minute thirteen seconds mark.

(7/20/17) “On July 7th Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt met with an array of forest and forestry advocates including Scott Jones, CEO of the Forest Landowners Association (FLA)... ‘More than half of the forested acres in this country are owned privately,’ said Jones. ‘The environmental benefits provided to the entire country by these privately owned forests is just enormous…to be able to share the scope of private forestlands with Administrator Pruitt is just huge for our association and our members.”’

(7/19/17) Federal tax dollars go up in smoke when political leaders force agencies to spend more on fighting forest fires than is prudent and necessary. Wouldn't it be nice if a state's governor were to say, "We are doing what is sensible and useful in this circumstance and will not indulge in political theater for its own sake."

(7/18/17)The forest products industry remains one of the strongest industries in Alabama in terms of annual capital investment and employment.” This article highlights four Northwest Alabama forest industry companies listed on the recently released 2016 New and Expanding Industry Report.

(7/17/17) "The biggest danger with an overheating catalytic converter is that it's the lowest hanging part of the car, laying just inches above the ground." Poorly maintained exhaust systems can set forest fires.

(7/14/17) International Beams, a cross-laminated timber (CLT) producer, announced plans to move into a facility in Dothan, Alabama. The supply of Southern Yellow Pine was cited as one of the factors inducing the company to locate there.

(7/13/17) We know many landowners try not to keep their investment eggs in one basket. As some countries move toward limiting or eliminating cash, this source of value could become scarce. “However, cash is one of the best ways to manage your privacy, economic strategy, and the risks in your financial life.”

(7/12/17) The Montevallo community is mourning 74-year-old pharmacy owner Larry Wayne Smitherman, who was killed in a bush hog accident July 8. From the Shelby County Reporter:

Smitherman’s wife found him under his bush hog, his tractor still running at a low idle.
“It appears,” Assistant Chief Deputy Shane Mayfield said, “that a section of garden hose wrapped around the blades of the bush hog, and he had gotten under it to try to untangle it.”
Mayfield suggested the hydraulic pressure of the tractor was insufficient for suspending the bush hog for an extended period of time, issuing a tragic accident and immense loss to the Montevallo community when it could hold no longer.

(7/11/17) Fire might be the only way to fight Chronic Wasting Disease, which affects deer and elk. Though this disease hasn't been found in Alabama, the near-impossibility of eliminating it from the environment is a reason for caution.

(7/10/17) Landowners who lease their land for hunting, or are considering it, might find the hunter’s perspective in this article useful.

(7/7/17) For our North Alabama members, some reassurance that well-managed forest is the best protection for mountain roads. "...study shows how important it is to prevent erosion by using best management practices and the remarkable capacity of forests to filter sediment from storm runoff.” See this post for instructions on installing a culvert to further protect your forest roads.

(7/6/17) Perhaps we've let things get out of hand: “The CWA [Clean Waters Act]…gave the federal government the authority to regulate the obstruction and fill of navigable waters. The operational term was “navigable waters” and this meant for vessels engaged in commerce. … Soon, “navigable” waters and rivers became tributary streams, creeks, and even irrigation runoff ditches. Regulatory agencies began to control the use of private lands and waters that were merely adjacent to navigable waters, and then ever-farther afield until it had placed a straightjacket of regulatory control over lands that only became wet during rainy seasons or following prolonged storms.”

(7/5/17) “In recent years, many states have adopted a 'bright-line' or factor presence nexus standard. This means companies with property, payroll or sales in a particular state above certain thresholds are presumed to have nexus in the state and are therefore required to file income tax returns and pay tax in that state.” JamisonMoneyFarmer’s Jennifer Stripling adds that the bright-line test would apply to forest land that generates income in another state. She encourages landowners with forest land in other states to discuss the issue with their CPA.

(7/3/17) You might be interested in how differently timber is taxed in the United Kingdom: "...sale of timber is free of income tax, and forest assets can also be used for rollover relief purposes and as a shelter against inheritance tax."

(6/30/17) Some sources predict an upcoming lumber supply gap for 2018 based on growth trends and a tight US housing market. Chile and Brazil could fill some of the projected shortfall, but Forest 2 Market notes: “Based on southern yellow pine lumber capacity throughout the region, a bulk of the supply gap will likely be filled by sawmills in the US South in the near term.”

(6/29/17) You can see photos here of the high school students learning about forestry at Auburn University this summer. We announce this event each year, so if the teens you know didn’t get a chance to participate, look out for the announcement next spring.

(6/28/17) "On June 26th, the Commerce Department announced a preliminary determination that exporters from Canada have sold softwood lumber into the United States at a 4.59 – 7.72 percent discount from fair value." The US will impose additional duties on Canadian softwood lumber. "Together the new duty rates can range from 17.4 to 30.1%."

(6/27/17) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering “technical and financial assistance to landowners” for longleaf restoration, focusing on four main conservation actions: managing competing vegetation; prescribed fire; planting; and easements.

(6/26/17) The Forest Resources Association says the American Chestnut Foundation is asking anyone working in Southern forests to be on the lookout for flowering American chestnuts this year. Though the species dies before reaching maturity, young stump sprouts can still be found in the wild. This article includes instructions for sending genetic samples to aid efforts to restore this “iconic timber and wildlife tree.”

(6/21/17) If you didn’t own timberland, would you think that forest landowners should pay more taxes after reading this article? Only the last few paragraphs highlight that Current Use provisions help landowners keep timberland out of commercial developments and that “timberland farmers take on extraordinary risk in farming timber that may not be harvested for decades.” If you have an opinion about your property taxes, consider contacting your state lawmakers.

(6/20/17) Unsurprisingly, researchers found that communities are “far better at protecting the forest from fires when they have formal land rights.” An El Salvador-based think tank produced the study, which followed a Guatemala community with the right to “use, manage, and patrol” a 400,000 hectare nature reserve.

(6/19/17) This article in The Progressive Farmer suggests that tax reform, when passed, could eliminate a tax deduction for a mortgage on a secondary vacation home—except on existing mortgages. “Taken at its face value, this suggests acting sooner rather than later if you are considering the acquisition of a vacation property.”

(6/16/17) Interesting discussion on the value of signage on your private forestland in the event of an emergency. “Sure, you know the place like the back of your hand. … Unfortunately, all of your knowledge is of no help whatsoever when you are the incapacitated person whom the emergency personnel are attempting to locate.”

(6/15/17) Reintroducing American Chestnuts resistant to the chestnut blight may be more difficult than most of us thought it would be. A root rot that affects lowland trees also poses problems for silviculturists.

(6/14/17) Combined, forestry activity contributes $23 billion annually to Alabama’s economy, accounting for 20 percent of total manufacturing jobs (both direct and indirect) and 7 percent of the Alabama workforce, according to the AFA.

(6/13/17) We thought you might be interested in this newsletter from the Alabama Treasure Forest Association.

(6/12/17) "The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution secures our right to own private property. However ... ownership does not guarantee control of who goes on your land." No Trespassing signs are important to law enforcement in Alabama, too. Sheriff Jay Jones discussed trespass with AFOA.

(6/9/17) Some Alabama sites will see a bumper crop of longleaf pine cones in 2017. “News of a good cone crop usually alerts forest managers to get busy with site preparation during the summer and nursery managers to plan for cone collection during the fall.” This takes time, so make your longleaf regeneration plans now.

(6/8/17) "...the Atlanta Federal Reserve recently projected that the US economy is on track to grow at an annual pace of 4.3 percent in 2Q. Growth at this rate could play into demand for pulp and sawtimber in the coming months. The recently-announced US tariffs on lumber imports from Canada may also spur demand for sawtimber logs in the US South. However, even if demand for pine sawtimber increases as 2017 progresses, there is still an oversupply of large logs available on the market and stumpage prices could remain muted.

(6/7/17) A single specimen of the Southeastern Bat was found infected with White-nose Syndrome (WNS) near Alabama's Lake Purdy. The disease has killed large numbers of the Northern Long-Eared Bat, resulting in that species being listed on the Threatened and Endangered Species List. Check our news from April 2016 for information on how the endangered species status of the NLEB might affect your forest management activities.

(6/6/17) Online registration is open until June 11 for Alabama’s annual alligator hunt. "The administrative fee to apply for an Alligator Possession Tag is $22 and individuals may register one time per zone.” Note: the site experienced technical issues that have been resolved. Visit this site for registration instructions or to check whether your registration was received.

(6/5/17) In our neighboring state, a budget shortfall is forcing the Mississippi Forestry Commission to cut 75 jobs in a statewide restructuring.

(6/2/17) This case in Texas might be of interest to those concerned with mineral rights and the rights of landowners over the land underneath the surface.

(6/1/17) This fire resistant tarp protects both your campfire and forest. The Campfire Defender is a "portable tool that can be used over a live fire, giving your coals hours of weather protection."

(5/31/17) The University of Maryland Extension will offer a General Forestry Course for Fall 2017; you can take the paper or online version of the non-credit course. “You work from the comfort of your home...You will learn how to protect your trees from insects, diseases and fire; step-by-step procedures will walk you through a forest inventory and stand analysis; and the details of the forestry business are presented, including tax nuances and the sale and harvest of forest products. Register or learn more here. Source: Wednesday Woodland Word, 5/31/17

(5/30/17) Testing the soil of your food plot can save time and money. In this brief video from the Quality Deer Management Association, "you can learn a few things about how to improve your sampling methods and get even more value out of your food plots."

(5/26/17)President’s Budget Includes Forestry Cuts” declares the National Association of State Foresters in its weekly newsletter. But while some forest owners receive state and federal assistance to manage their forestland, does someone with 100 or more acres of forestland (a considerable asset when the median savings for all US families is just $5,000) need government assistance for forest management activities such as tree planting and site preparation? We suspect government agencies and industry lobbyists are leading the “government assistance is needed” parade, not private forest owners.

(5/25/17) "Georgia-Pacific is investing $50 million to upgrade the paperboard machine at the company’s mill in Escambia County, following the completion of a $388 million energy improvement project that involved two years of construction."

(5/25/17) From a video on how to measure tree diameter to recordings of bird calls that can help you identify the birds on your land, an internet search can yield a lot of practical knowledge for forest landowners

(5/23/17) The forestry industry is a great place to go for dividend income. This is because REITs, real estate investment trusts, are structured in a way that requires them to “pay out 90% of their income out to shareholders via dividends. The net result is that the dividend yield of the top forest owners is often more than double that of the average stock in the market.” Read more about the top five dividend payers in the industry.

(5/22/17) One less regulation for anyone who owns a drone for personal use: "A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday struck down a Federal Aviation Administration rule requiring recreational drone owners to register their devices with the government."

(5/19/17) Russia will launch a new natural disaster-monitoring satellite “equipped with an infrared camera, which will help reveal forest fire hotbeds.” Its sunlight reflector will make it this satellite the brightest star in the sky. Another new fire technology from Russia, “fast-hardening, fully biodegradable foam for firefighting,” is reported to work better than currently available chemical foams, which are also toxic to plants and wildlife.

(5/18/17) Prescribed burns are valuable for a variety of reasons, both in the West and here in Alabama. We suspect the high cost in this article about a prescribed burn in Arizona--$66 per acre--is the result of federal officials lack of concern for economics, something private landowners have to consider more carefully.

(5/17/17) "Farmers and forest landowners often have a lot of questions when they consider how to deal with land as they begin the estate planning process. Who will manage the land and pay the taxes? Will children get along after the death of a parent? How can parents ensure that farming children have use of the land? ... Alabama Extension is hosting a workshop to assist farmers and forest landowners make better informed choices as they make plans to transfer the family farm to the next generation." Check the AFOA calendar to find one of these workshops near you.

(5/16/17) "North American forests grow enough wood for a twenty-story skyscraper every 13 minutes." Architect Michael Green makes the case for the economic and environmental benefits of wooden skyscrapers in this TED talk.

(5/15/17) This new use of drone technology could be helpful in reducing cost and risk of fighting wildfire. See a video of the DRONE HOPPER in action, or visit the Spain-based company’s website.

(5/12/17) This video from the Mississippi Forestry Association shows how to use their smartphone app that helps landowners know at a glance whether a pine stand needs thinning.

(5/11/17) "Housing is up! Lumber use is up! But prices are down?" The Forisk Consulting blog outlines six factors that inhibit how Southern timber prices respond to demand. Their analysis of Q2 2017 also suggests that a tariff on softwood lumber imports from Canada won’t affect much, due to the respective production, capacity, and demand in both countries.

(5/10/17)The current federal tax structure recognizes forest owners’ risk and their contribution to the common good, and supports them in the stewardship of their land. It is vital to the continued productivity of our forests and to rural America, that as Congress cleans up the tax code, they seek to encourage … keeping them productive.”

(5/9/17) "When we consider investments in forestry (or other sectors), we must look forward. This may require us to adjust our thinking for probable nominal returns. When evaluating timberland holdings, revisit key questions."

(5/8/17) A rather interesting idea from Senator Whatley: SB399 would ”transfer all functions of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture and Industries, effective October 1, 2018.”

(5/5/17) The Appalachian regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) is looking to enroll northern Alabama landowners with reclaimed mine sites in their reforestation program. If you have a site that might qualify, you can find out more about the program by contacting Cliff Drouet with the Office of Surface Mining by phone (303-549-7249) or via email

(5/4/17) "I have observed forestland being clearcut and replaced with the solar panel installations." This article from the Forest Resources Association suggests that artificial incentives for solar power could have unintended consequences. Attorney Edward "Tony" Hubbard spoke about this potential income source at the AFOA Annual Meeting on 4/22/17. You can contact Tony with questions about solar farms at (205) 553-5353 or by email.

(5/3/17)We're hearing the words "gas tax" again, but this time, the plan is different.” Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) proposed a gas tax that “would allow for county commissions to hold a county-wide referendum for local voters to decide whether or not they would like a five-cent gas tax to fund pre-decided road projects. Specific projects would be presented to voters before the election, and the increases would expire in five-years time.” For more details on the bill, see this Decatur Daily article.

(5/1/17) "The last thing you want is to invest your valuable time and hard-earned money on a food plot only to have it taken over by weeds."

(4/28/17) In honor of Earth Day, Walter E. Williams discussed past climate and environmental predictions that did not come true.

(4/27/17)When Forever Wild buys land, it comes out of the tax base. It hurts rural counties, like Coosa County, the one I represent," the bill's sponsor, State Representative Mark Tuggle, told the Montgomery Advertiser. “It’s not meant in any way to diminish Forever Wild. It’s an effort to make counties whole.”

(4/26/17)There’s really no scientific reason whatsoever not to have a hunt,” Priddy said. “We can’t substitute politics for science. And if we don’t approve a hunt today, we’re really just throwing the science that we’ve gathered out the window.” Though Alabama's bear populations are smaller than Florida's, we could face these issues in the future.

(4/25/17) "The Trump administration is hitting Canada with stiff tariffs of up to 24% on lumber shipped into the United States." The tariffs target five companies in particular: West Fraser Mills, Tolko Marketing and Sales, J.D. Irving, Canfor Corporation, and Resolute FP Canada. The tariffs could have an effect on demand for stumpage in the South.

(4/24/17) Prepare for the dry season with this checklist from the Florida Forest Service of ways to protect your home from wildfire. It might also be useful for those with hunting lodges or other structures on forest land. And if protecting your property weren’t incentive enough, fighting fires can even affect your health.

(4/20/17) This Forest Research Note reminds us that many factors affect the price you can get for the timber on your land: "Timber prices are not stock prices. Published stock prices are based entirely on transactions and the published price applies to all shares of a given stock. Some published timber prices are based on transactions, but most are based on surveys. Because timber is not a uniform commodity, published timber prices cannot be applied directly to a timber property, but can provide an indication of the value of the timber on the property.

(4/19/17) Stephan Tomlinson of Growing Assets, LLC, wrote in their newsletter: "Growing Assets, LLC., has been asked to administer a cost share program designed to encourage private landowners in the Cumberland Plateau to plant shortleaf pine after a harvest. Last year our firm planted over 1,100 acres for this program and we are signing up potential candidates for this next planting season (winter 2018). The cost share will pay half of the planting and site preparation expenses up to a maximum of $110/acre and is directed at landowners in northwest Alabama." If you are interested in this program, email or call their office at (256) 383-8990 for more information.

(4/18/17) A seminar on the behavior of black-legged ticks (a species that carries Lyme disease) will be hosted at Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Wednesday, April 19. Read the abstract below, which has some good news for the US South.

Abstract: In the northeastern U.S., the key vector of Lyme disease is the nymphal life-stage of the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis). In northeastern states there is a very strong association between the early summer peak in nymphal host-seeking and the timing of human Lyme disease onset. A very different pattern is evident, however, in southeastern states. Despite robust populations of I. scapularis in some habitats there, few ticks that bite humans in the Southeast are I. scapularis, and those few are almost entirely the adult life-stage. Behavioral experiments suggest that a major change in nymphal I. scapularis questing behavior helps explain why human Lyme disease case reports from southeastern states are currently two orders of magnitude lower than in the Northeast. The potential future consequences of southwards expansion of northern I. scapularis populations will be discussed.

(4/17/17) Does the federal government really need more land? For reference, the federal government currently owns 640 million acres of land, roughly 28% of the country's total acreage. UPDATE: Read a brief statement from PERC on the need to reform the LWCF before any new lands are added to public rolls.

(4/14/17) About 250 years ago, New Hampshire citizens rose up against the British colonial government's punishment of mill owners who sawed white pine marked for the use of the Royal Navy. “Despite its scarcity among today’s narrative of the American Revolution, the Pine Tree Riot was a locally significant colonial uprising to take place between the Stamp Act riots and the Boston Tea Party.” Read the full story here.

(4/13/17) Aside from recent warnings about drought effects, southern pine beetle infestations have decreased dramatically in the last decade. “Why, with over twenty times more plantation area available for the beetles, has the region seen a disproportionately small number of beetle outbreaks over the last decade or two?” Recent research suggests that good management principles support the trees’ natural resistance to pests.

(4/12/17) In the latest F&W Forestry Report, Marshall Thomas says the number show housing starts may finally be reaching the threshold for putting demand pressure on prices. He cautions that some other factors, such as a large standing inventory of pine sawtimber and differences in the size and type of houses being built, might slow a rebound in prices. “So, maybe in the next quarter or two, we can celebrate reaching the threshold. Then, hopefully sometime next year, we can celebrate some higher sawtimber prices.”

(4/11/17) The Progressive Farmer this month (page 17) quotes Grover Norquist on three tax predictions: "death tax (federal estate tax) will be gone... the alternative minimum tax will be gone... the top capital gains tax rate will be 16%." If you have opinions on these issues, let your representatives know.

(4/10/17) "This summer educators throughout the United States and Canada will have the opportunity to head out into the forest and participate in hands-on learning through sustainable forestry Teachers' Tours." Check out the AFOA Calendar for info on the Alabama teacher's workshop, and encourage teachers you know or in your local schools to attend. For members in other states, the full list of U.S. tours can be found here.

(4/7/17) Resolute Forest Products Inc. recently announced the successful start-up of its new tissue machine in Calhoun, TN. This has the potential to affect the north Alabama market in a positive way for landowners in that region.

(4/6/17) "Everyone who ventures outdoors should be aware of ticks and the diseases they carry." Auburn University researcher Emily Merritt recently answered tick-related questions for Great Days Outdoors, and this top ten list includes some other helpful tips about ticks, like bagging any ticks you find to ID them later. We've found these tick and chigger gaiters from Forestry Suppliers useful for preventing bites.

(4/5/17) “On Monday, April 3, members of the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) selected Rick Oates as the new State Forester for Alabama. His appointment was later confirmed by Gov. Robert Bentley.” Read more at the AFC website.

(4/4/17) The Forest Resources Association is asking for support for the Future Logging Careers Act, which would “allow for sixteen and seventeen year olds in mechanized logging operations to work in the business under parental supervision.” Read more and find out how to support this legislation at the Florida Forestry Association newsletter.

(4/3/17) Joe Mallard talks about long and short term financing for agriculture and forest industries in this video from the Mississippi Forestry Association. “We work with landowners to come up with ways to purchase property and afford rural investment.” For Alabama contacts, you can find advertisements for Alabama Farm Credit and Alabama Ag Credit are on page three and six, respectively, of the AFOA newsletter.

(3/31/17) If you love aviation and the outdoors, some careers let you do both. The Alabama Forestry Commission has an aviation unit that spots fires as well as insect infestations and logging violations. This video shows a firsthand look at pilot Robert Trimble in Baldwin County. Likewise, the Georgia Forestry Commission employs “ten full-time pilots and about twenty-three part-time pilots.”

(3/30/17) Do you know anyone who'd like to learn to operate timber harvesting equipment? The College of Central Florida is offering a new noncredit program to prepare students for employment in the vital and expanding logging and timber industry in North Central Florida.

(3/28/17) “Using compass and pacing can be useful in many different woodlot activities. A compass indicates the direction you are headed relative to magnetic north, and pacing is a simple means of measuring linear distance by walking. Combining the use of a compass with pacing will help you as you travel across country or traversing property or stand boundaries.” H/T: Wednesday Woodland Word.

You can get firsthand instruction on pacing and other field skills at Dr. Becky Barlow’s Forest Measurements for Landowners workshop at the AFOA 2017 Annual Meeting.

(3/27/2017) "We can use our trees and enjoy them too." This video is a good resource if you need to explain to friends and acquaintances why good forest management and forest products don't interfere with wildlife and environmental goals.

(3/25/17) The Boy Scout forestry merit badge booklet and free, downloadable worksheets can be a useful tool for getting your young one in the forest and learning, whether you have a scout or not. “…Scouts will explore the remarkable complexity of a forest and identify many species of trees and plants and the roles they play in a forest’s life cycle. They will also discover some of the resources forests provide to humans and come to understand that people have a very large part to play in sustaining the health of forests.”

(3/24/17) Bringing back pork projects is no way to keep government costs under control. If forest owners may lose capital gains treatment of timber sale income and the ability to annually deduct tree planting and other forest management costs, there is no place in the federal budget for new pork barrel projects. Remind your friends that when the government pays for it, it’s not 'free.'”

(3/22/17)Nordic forestry firms racing to replace paper business lost to the internet are trying to transform their pulp mill by-products into glue, biofuel and carbon fiber for aircraft and wind turbines.” Meanwhile, “as retail sales [of incontinence products] grow so does the demand of fluff pulp, a moisture-absorbing fiber made by such paper companies as International Paper Co. and Domtar Corp.”

(3/21/17) Almost 50% of the wood fiber for pellets came from sawmill waste and forest residue after logging so far in 2017, which represents a shift in source material, according to a news release Wood Resources International, LLC. However, the energy fairness organization PACE reports that Europe could be rethinking their green energy initiatives: “Meanwhile, after spending $750 billion on subsidies and doubling power bills, the European Union has decided to quietly step back from its green energy programs."

(3/20/17) Auburn University is offering the Forestry Field Camp again this summer. “This hands-on camp will give students an opportunity to get outdoors and learn about forestry in Alabama and the importance of forestry field measurements in making forest management decisions.” This is a good learning opportunity for students interested in natural resource professions as well as the next generation of forest landowners. Listen to Dr. Becky Barlow describe the program on Capital Ideas—Live! in 2015, or learn more and sign up at the Auburn website.

(3/17/17) Economist Dr. Terry Anderson of the Property and Environment Research Center suggested in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal that a 10% excise tax on outdoor gear should be imposed to pay for public land access and maintenance. The AFOA sent this response to Dr. Anderson and the Journal:

Since private landowners already subsidize public land recreation through our property and income taxes, adding an excise tax on the gear that is used on private land would just be adding insult to injury. Thousands of our members provide outdoor recreation access to tens of thousands of hunters, campers, hikers, birdwatchers, ATV enthusiasts and others. We suspect that most of the gear purchased for these outdoor activities is never used on public land. Please rethink your idea and re-propose.”

(3/16/17) In his newsletter, Georgia-based consulting forester Mike Matre presented a side-by-side comparison of tracts planted with different seedlings and preparations. He outlines the difference in cost per acre and lists the differences in his site prep and planting practices for each tract.

(3/15/17) Funds are now available to help landowners prevent Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) infestation. The application deadline for these funds is Friday, March 17, 2017. The list of eligible activities and application instructions are available here.

(3/14/17) Forest owners need loggers, tree planters, road builders, and many other "doers" to improve our forests and harvest timber. Mike Rowe's message on the value of work and pride of accomplishment may help your child or grandchild find their own place on your forest management team.

(3/13/17) The “privilege to hunt with dogs ends when it infringes on someone else’s property. … private property rights have to be defended,” said Chuck Sykes, Director of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division. His comments came in support of a recent regulation that attempts to reduce trespass from dog hunters.

(3/10/17) Yes, baiting might be legalized soon. But with a new fee and permit. “Alabama sportsmen could eventually use bait legally to hunt deer and hogs if a bill passed by the state house of representatives becomes law. … However, the baiting privilege will come with a price tag if the bill becomes law as written.

(3/9/17)Both hardwood and pine trees of various ages and sizes are dying as a direct result of the recent drought. Many more pines are being killed due to bark beetle infestations, also a complication associated with the drought of last fall…Landowners are advised to monitor their property for signs of damage.” You should contact your consulting forester immediately if you suspect you have damaged or infested trees. You can see photos of some common signs of infestation here. If you haven’t worked with a consulting forester before, you can contact AFOA for a list of consulting foresters in your county.

(3/8/17) "Property rights are an effective means for conserving and recovering endangered species. If someone owns these animals and sees some gain from their flourishing, recovery is more likely. But if endangered species are merely a liability and any economic incentive to protect them is vigorously opposed, we can’t expect much better results than the Endangered Species Act’s woeful 2% recovery rate."

(3/7/17) The composite southern yellow pine lumber price has surged since week 4 of 2017. Though there has been no resolution to the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA), the price increase is reflective of the larger market optimism and major stock market indices that have also soared since President Trump’s inauguration on January 20. Mild winter weather and an early arrival of Spring in many regions has also prompted inventory building that is a few weeks ahead of schedule.

(3/6/17) This demonstration by the University of Kentucky Extension Service shows how to make your own sheets of paper using a kit they have available and household items. A great forest products educational activity to complete with young ones.

(3/3/17)Often, it makes sense to give family members financial gifts or gifts of property while you are still living.” This blog post from a Texas law firm outlines an example of how you can strategically make tax-free gifts that help your loved ones.

(3/2/17) Any landowners who sell timber indirectly pay severance taxes twice. Recent interpretations of the statute [regarding the severance tax and processing tax] have highlighted the need to remove the ambiguities and vagueness created by the archaic language of the law. As such, the [Alabama Forestry] Association has drafted changes to the statute that will hopefully clear up the current confusion. You can view the text of the bills at this link by doing a search for the bills below:

  • HB313- Beech- further defines the types of forest products subject to the forest products severance tax and the manufacturer's forest products tax liability. In House (A&F)
  • SB244- Albritton- further defines the types of forest products subject to the forest products severance tax and the manufacturer's forest products tax liability. In Senate (AC&F)

(3/1/17) The Tennessee Department of Agriculture recently produced a video profile of Traci Middleton of Middleton Lumber in Tennessee as part of a video series on women in agriculture. Middleton talks about her love of the forest industry and what led her to stick with the family business.

(2/28/17) If you know any teachers interested in the environment and conservation, be sure to let them know about the annual Alabama Teachers Conservation Workshop by the Alabama Forestry Association. This four-day program gives educators of all kinds hands-on learning, valuable classroom resources, and an in-depth perspective on the role of forests in the environment. AFOA is a proud sponsor of this event each year, including a scholarship to fund one educator’s attendance, so help us spread the word. Learn more here, or register online.

(2/27/17) Do you know how big an acre is? At the 2017 AFOA Annual Meeting, Alabama Cooperative Extension Specialist and Auburn University Associate Professor Becky Barlow will teach landowners key field skills, such as how to estimate acreage or determine the wood volume (and by extension the value) of a tree.

(2/24/17) Culverts can prevent erosion and make driving on your roads more pleasant, and can also facilitate movement of fish and wildlife on your property. As drier weather approaches, you might be thinking about installing a culvert on your land. This resource from Oklahoma Forestry Services gives good tips and helpful photos on correct installation of culverts.

(2/23/17) The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) announced a new program for students: "Enhancing Environmental Quality through Property Rights and Markets." PERC will provide a full scholarship to cover tuition, meals, lodging, and a stipend of $500 for each student's travel expenses. A great program for students concerned about the environment and who would like to explore solving problems without command and control methods.

(2/22/17)There is a whole month of hunting opportunity in February that many Alabama hunters miss. … Squirrel season occurs immediately after the close of deer season, and deer signs are still evident. It provides an opportunity for hunters to scout and learn more about their hunting property.”

(2/21/17) Dr. John Goodman discusses Health Savings Accounts (HSA) on CSPAN's Washington Journal. HSAs may be useful to forest owners who are working full time to manage their land.

(2/20/17) The Q1 Forisk News is available now, with highlights including the timber price forecast, trucking capacity and prices, timber market growth potential, and a year-end analysis of Forisk’s 2016 forecasting.

(2/16/17) We’re glad to announce two more speakers for the AFOA 2017 Annual Meeting: Joe Stephenson, a professional registered landman, will describe how his services can help you keep a handle on your mineral rights. In addition, Auburn University Research Engineer James Johnson will speak about the current and potential future uses of UAVs (drones) by forest landowners.

(2/15/17)Drought-stressed trees can be weakened, causing them to be more susceptible to insects and diseases,” said Dana Stone of the Alabama Forestry Commission in a recent news release. Stone told AFOA that areas hit hardest by last year's drought, including DeKalb, Cherokee, Calhoun, and Shelby counties, are reporting the most pine beetle infestations. But she says any landowner north of Montgomery should be especially vigilant.

(2/14/17) Alabama Private Forests, a Discovering Alabama Production sponsored by the Bradley/Murphy Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Trust, is scheduled for statewide broadcast on Alabama Public Television three times in April: 9 PM Monday, April 17th, 9 PM Friday, April 21st, and 6 PM Sunday, April 30th. The Discovering Alabama host, Dr. Doug Phillips, will be at the AFOA 2017 Annual Meeting to introduce a special showing of this segment of his long-running program.

(2/13/17) We're pleased to announce two more speakers  for the 2017 AFOA Annual Meeting: Joe Clark, Stumpage Forester at Forest2Market, Inc., will talk about market realities and finding your niche market, and Gary Lemme, Director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will present the newest data about the impact of forestry and agriculture on Alabama's economy.

(2/10/17) A little background on Neil Gorsuch, nominee for Supreme Court: His mother, Ann Gorsuch Burford, was the first female head of the EPA. "She became known for her efforts under Reagan for working to lessen the clout of the federal government in the area of environmental regulations, trying instead to devolve authority and give the states more leeway over their own jurisdictions."

(2/9/17) We are happy to report all seven Alabama representatives are members of the Working Forests Caucus. If you live or have land in another state, check this list to see if your representatives are members. Updating the tax code is one of the goals of the caucus.

(2/8/17) "An estimated 1.17 million housing units were started in 2016—a nearly 5 percent increase over 2015—making it the strongest year since 2007. However, there was a continued divergence in the types of residential buildings under construction; single-family starts were up 9.3 percent last year, but multifamily units fell 3.1 percent." This Forest2Market analysis also predicts what we can expect from Millennials and housing.

(2/7/17) File this one under “If it ain’t broke…” How to work around the EPA-mandated gas cans, “things that work worse thanks to geniuses in the federal bureaucracy.”

(2/6/17) For AFOA members interested in becoming more active in politics at the national level, the Forest Landowners Association Political Action Committee offers some interesting opportunities.

(2/3/17) "A story map developed by U.S. Forest Service researchers allows users to interactively chart the ebb and flow of forest products across the southern states... Southern Forest Products – An Economic Engine provides a constantly updated guide to southern timber product outputs and the mills that process them."

(2/2/17) Mark Thomas, Certified Wildlife Biologist and Consulting Forester, will bring humor and expertise as he leads a discussion on common forest and wildlife management problems and how a variety of herbicides can be used to solve them at the AFOA 2017 Annual Meeting.

(2/1/17) "The good news is that with thoughtful planning and orchestration before the meeting, the family can participate in effective dialogue together and produce meaningful results." Ways to keep folks engaged in the family business – including managing family land – and make family meetings productive.

(1/31/17) "The optimal planting window for bareroot seedlings is late November until mid March and containerized seedlings can be planted from October until May." This guide gives detailed tips for improving planting success. Also available in Spanish if you work with a planting crew that might benefit from the guide.

(1/30/17)The simple truth is that [the estate tax] is a particularly damaging tax policy for our members. In many instances, this tax can lead to untimely timber harvests or even worse, a land sale.” - Scott Jones, Forest Landowners Association president

(1/27/17) "'If you look at the statistics from the U.S. South, close to two-thirds of the timber harvest is coming from small landowners,' said Robert G. Flynn, director, international timber, for RISI, a forest-products research firm." This NY Times article looks at the risks and returns of three ways to invest in forests.

(1/26/17) Birmingham attorney Leslie Klasing, a partner at Waldrep, Stewart, & Kendrick, LLC, has joined the roster of presenters for the AFOA 2017 Annual Meeting. Klasing will speak on timber theft and other boundary related problems for landowners. Read her advice for foresters on this topic here. Additionally, AFOA member Tommy Sellers: The Man With The Hillabee Creek Band will be playing at the Friday night reception. Listen to some of his music here.

(1/25/17) Since a fuel tax may be on the 2017 legislative agenda, we want to be sure lawmakers know that timber and agriculture crops locked behind low-weight bridges and roads are worthless. If we maintain and improve our major highways, but neglect the maintenance of rural roads and bridges, there will be nothing to ship on the highways and Alabama will be poorer for the neglect.

(1/24/17) A California sheriff is using a high tech chemical for ag theft prevention. "The product is made up of water and solvent-based traceable liquids. Each vial has a unique chemical code that can be traced back to the farmer or person who registers it through a database...Once sprayed on ag equipment, the liquid which is invisible, odorless, stays on a thief for up to five years without them noticing and is picked up using an ultra-violet light." Could this also help with logging equipment theft? 

(1/23/17) “The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled there is a reasonable indication that softwood lumber imports from Canada materially injure the U.S. industry.” This means the case for renegotiating the disputed agreement will move forward. Bloomberg analyst Joshua Zaret talks about what it means for US producers in this video.

(1/20/17) "Donald Trump said Thursday that he expects that former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, his choice to lead the Agriculture Department, will 'deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.' ... Perdue showed little interest in pushing big programs or signature legislation during his two terms. Instead he focused on finding ways to save money while improving customer service by state agencies."

(1/19/17) The deadline to apply for financial assistance through the 2017 Wild Pig Program with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is Friday, January 20. Eligibility rules and payment information are available here. You must sign the agreement in person at a local NRCS office or fax a signed copy. Address and contact info for each county’s office can be found by finding your county on this map.

(1/18/17) The Alabama Forestry Association invites young professionals to participate in an exclusive professional development training program. The AFA hopes to attract participants across the whole spectrum of the Alabama forestry community to connect with peers and mentors, and grow professionally. Anyone interested should apply as soon as possible to secure a spot. Application and more details here.

(1/17/17) Scott Lockyear, Senior National Director, Design and Construction Services at WoodWorks, will introduce some of the interesting new wood uses and new wood products (Multi-story buildings, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), Massive Plywood Panels, etc.) to forest landowners at AFOA’s 2017 Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held at the Alabama 4-H Center (about 40 miles south of Birmingham) on April 22. Read more about Massive Plywood Panels and other wood technology expected to give a boost to timber.

(1/16/17) Beth Richardson, a Clemson University Extension Service forester, will return as a speaker for the 2017 AFOA Annual Meeting. Her message on practical forest management and energy-packed delivery have made her one of the most talked-about speakers we’ve ever had. She has previously spoken with AFOA on “Getting the Best from your Pine Plantation” and “Improving the Return of Your Forestry Investments."

(1/13/17) "The possibility for permanent, positive change was there, but appears to have been “trumped” by the existing power structure. There will be no 'draining of the swamp' at Interior." - Frank DuBois on the Secretary of the Interior appointment.

(1/12/17) "It looks as if 2017 could bring another seismic rewrite of our federal tax system ... This could be a year to extend your 2016 tax filing and keep your options open."

(1/11/17) "IFCO Bareroot, LLC is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with Weyerhaeuser Company to purchase four forest seedling nurseries as well as the Flint River Seed Orchard. These nurseries are located in Jesup, Georgia, Washington,North Carolina, Pine Hill, Alabama, and Shubuta, Mississippi."

(1/10/17) “We believe the stage is set for the timber REITs to outperform in 2017.” Raymond James recommends timber REITs Rayonier and Weyerhauser as strong stocks to buy in 2017. It remains to be seen whether good news for REITs means good news for private forest landowners, but we should definitely be paying attention.

(1/9/17) "Industry consumption remains strong and if US GDP growth improves, the pulp and paper industry will have a good year." More predictions for global wood markets in 2017, courtesy of Forest2Market.

(1/6/17)Freezing weather can have a detrimental effect on seedling vigor and survival both in the nursery beds and after planting.” Advice from ArborGen on protecting your seedlings through cold weather events, before and after planting.

(1/5/17) Our belief that the current top-down, government controlled wildlife management system could be effectively replaced by rigorous trespass protection generated some interesting discussion at the ALDEER online forum. Our ideas were a response to an article by Chuck Sykes, Chief of the Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division, available here. Read our article near the bottom of page 6 of the January Capital Ideas newsletter.

(1/4/17) STIHL outlines all you need to know in order to sharpen a chainsaw correctly.

(1/3/17) Senticnel is a tree-mounted sensor system designed to identify the location of a forest fire, alert responders, and predict the path of the fire using modeling software. Though this system might not be practical yet, we think it’s an interesting technology with promise for forest landowners.

(1/2/17) "The trade-off between the benefits of sustainable energy and the negative impacts of razing swaths of forest has come up multiple times...in several locations around the United States." Alabama Power issued a call for proposals on renewable energy last fall. Edward (Tony) Hubbard has experience negotiating solar leases, and will be speaking on April 22 at the AFOA annual meeting.