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Timber Harvesting

Stewardship of Forest Land

Timber Harvest Operation

Harvesting timber is a valuable tool you can use to take care of your forest land while also serving as a source of income. Your forest land is a renewable resource that can provide you with additional benefits and enjoyment when cared for properly. The decisions you make can affect the forest for decades, or even centuries. Timber harvesting under the direction of a professional forester can help you make decisions with the future in mind, promoting your goals as a landowner and ensuring the health and productivity of your forest.

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Get Advice from a Professional Forester

Before initiating a timber harvest, get technical advice and assistance from your regional DEC stewardship forester or from a cooperating forester. A forester is a professional who can advise you about forest management options and help select trees to save or cut. Everyone who plans to harvest timber will benefit from a management plan.

Permit Requirements for Timber Harvests

A permit or other requirement(s) may be necessary to undertake a timber harvest in New York State.

A state permit is not required for harvesting timber specifically, but a state permit is required when crossing certain classified streams, working in certain designated wetlands, or for clearcuts over 25 acres in the Adirondack Park. Learn more about general stream crossing permits.

Timber harvests may also be subject to local laws, ordinances, or regulations that regulate harvesting along with other related activities like road access and use.

Before undertaking a timber harvest on your forestland, you should always check with your nearest DEC office and the Town Clerk, for the town in which the harvest will occur, about any permit requirements or harvesting restrictions.

Check with the nearest DEC office about:

  • Stream Crossings - If a timber harvest requires crossing a stream, it is possible you will be required to obtain an Article 15 state individual permit, or general permit, from the Regional Permit Administrator.
  • Timber Harvest Activities in a Designated Wetland - Most timber harvesting in designated wetlands is exempt from requirement of a state permit. However, depending on the level of harvesting and related construction, timber harvests taking place in a wetland may require a state wetlands permit from the Regional Permit Administrator.

Check with the town clerk:

  • To determine if there is a local timber harvesting law or ordinance that requires a permit or other administrative action in the town where the harvest will occur.

For harvests on private land in the Adirondack Park, check with the Adirondack Park Agency (leaves DEC website) about:

  • Clearcuts greater than 25 acres
  • Timber harvesting in "Wild, Scenic and Recreational River" corridors (while a permit is not required, certain harvesting restrictions apply)

Timber Harvesting as a Tool

A timber harvest is an important tool for achieving your goals and maintaining the health of your forest.

A properly planned and conducted harvest, using NYS Best Management Practices, can provide you with many benefits. In addition to providing income, tree harvesting can enhance:

  • forest health and appearance
  • productivity
  • wildlife habitat
  • recreational access
  • property values
  • water quality

How to Ensure a Successful Timber Harvest

  1. Use a professional forester.
    A forester will help you with the essential activities listed below.
  2. Identify your property boundary lines.
    If there is a doubt about the exact boundaries, consult with your neighbor or have the property surveyed.
  3. Contact your local DEC office and town clerk.
    Check with the town clerk and apply for any required permits or ordinances.
  4. Identify the trees being sold.
    The best way to do this is to have a forester mark each tree with bright paint at eye level and at the stump. Measure each tree as it is marked in order to estimate the volume of the marked trees.
  5. Advertise the sale.
    Send a notice of sale of forest products to potential buyers asking for bids. The New York Logger Training Program(Link leaves DEC website) maintains a list of certified timber harvesters and DEC keeps lists of sawmills and other primary wood processing facilities both in-state and out of state. Other avenues include, forest products marketing bulletins and trade journals.
    A notice of sale of forest products should include:
    • Your name, address, and telephone number,
    • the estimate of the volume of marked trees offered for sale,
    • terms of harvesting,
    • terms of bidding,
    • terms of sale, and
    • a map or description of location of the property.
  6. Prepare and award a timber sale contract.
    The contract should always be in writing and include any verbal agreements made between buyer and seller.
    DEC can advise on the types of things a timber sales contract should cover. However, an attorney should draw up any agreement.
  7. Inspect harvesting activities.
    The owner or forester should be on the site on the first day of the harvest and meet the workers. Every week or so, the owner or forester should inspect the progress of the work. Routine inspections help avoid contract violations. In addition, any problems that may occur can be corrected right away.

Selling Forest Products

Selling timber as part of an overall management plan can improve the long-term quality and value of your forest. Find our more about suggested steps for selling your forest products.