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What Do I Want Out of My Forest Land

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April 19, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about what do I want out of my forest land? Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Randy Rousseau, Professor of Forestry with Mississippi State University Extension.

Randy, today we will try to provide some options to landowners when they are trying to address the question of what they want from their forest lands. Randy, how do we get started with this?

Randy Rousseau: Well, Amy, I think the best thing is just to jump right into it. It seems like this is a question that I ask every forest landowner that I come in contact with. In the vast majority of the cases, they really have not given it much thought. It seems a little illogical that they're carrying on with their actually private life, raising their families, and a full-time jobs, and they push this aside somewhat. They may think about it during hunting season or if someone approaches them about harvesting their trees, but in general, not a lot of thought goes into it.

In a lot of situations, the owner passes away and their heirs to the estate, must have to consider what they want to do with that land, with many choosing to sell as they may not be that close to the land. Those that decide to keep the land typically really are unsure of what to do and need some forestry help, and that's where a consultant is needed in helping guide them.

Amy Myers: Okay, so what needs to be done to change the situation?

Randy Rousseau: Well, the first thing that they need to realize is that they have a lot of options of what they could be doing. That's considered that we have 400 acres of which 60% of it is pine and hardwood mixture. 40% of it is in timber hardwood stand with a small creek running through the middle of it. The first you need to ask yourself, what are my objectives for this property or in other words, what is my vision for the property? There are a lot of visions that you can have, but you need to explore the options and do this and partly with a consultant that can help you determine the market value of the timber, as well as the age of the stands.

This provides a first piece of the puzzle that you'll need to base your decisions on. First the value of the timber. Can it be thought of as a savings account? And that you are not ready to cut any timber and would rather have the timber continue to age and hopefully grow in value. Then the decision is easy. We're going to leave it alone. If you want recreational value in terms of wildlife habitat, knowing the age and the makeup of the stand will allow you to decide how you'd like to partition the property. If your pine hardwood stands are heavy to pine and the market value is good, you may want to remove the pine, but leave the hardwoods in the stand. This will provide cover and food for your wildlife since this is early successional stage.

Where full sunlight to the ground will provide additional forage for wildlife such as deer. In most cases, people think of hardwoods as being trees that live for extremely long periods of time; however, unfortunately hardwoods also have a life cycle and that biological age for southern hardwoods is somewhere between 100 and 200 years. If the span is reaching 100 to 125 years of age, it's time to think about regeneration. Especially if there's oak in the stand. Without some type of intervention, the stand will begin to favor more shade tolerant species which are lower in both economic, as well as wildlife value. Really in summary, what I'm trying to get at is that every landowner should have a management plan. This is something that provides you with a pathway to the future. There's no reason that a management plan cannot be modified, but you probably should discuss it with your family and ensure that the vision that you initially had is still one that you and your other significant others can currently live with.

Amy Myers: So Randy, for more information, if we go to Mississippi State University Extension's website, which is and type in forest management plan into the website's search engine, they're on the right hand side of the screen. That's a good way to find more information is that correct?

Randy Rousseau: That's correct.

Amy Myers: Thank you so much. Today we've been speaking with Dr. Randy Rousseau, Professor of Forestry at Mississippi State University Extension. I'm Amy Myers and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Forestry

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