Forest Products & the Science of Silviculture
The Ohio Division of Forestry (DOF) offers opportunities for the public to comment on and obtain forest products from Ohio’s state forests.
All of Ohio’s state forests are managed under the multiple-use concept for timber, wildlife habitat, forestry research, demonstrations of good forestland management, primitive recreation, and protection of soil and water quality. All of Ohio’s state forests are also dual certified under the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) standards. Not only are these forests a fantastic recreation feature for Ohio, but they are also working forests.
Each year, DOF foresters conduct “prescription cruises” in sections of state forests. The purpose of a prescription cruise is to monitor the health and silvicultural needs of the forest based on DOF goals. Timber cruise information is evaluated to determine if management activity would benefit the stand. Stands where a harvest is prescribed are placed on a proposed “marking” schedule. Marking a stand means identifying “leave” and “harvest” trees for future sales and calculating marking estimates. Most of these stands will be marked by DOF foresters according to the prescription developed for the particular stand. The division may also utilize consulting foresters as contractors to mark timber sales when necessary. DOF foresters will then paint sale boundaries. Prior to advertisement, all sales will have an opportunity for public comment.
Stumpage sales are sales of standing trees. There are three main types of contract stumpage sales that DOF uses depending on the best business practices and economic considerations for each specific circumstance.
- Lump Sum Stumpage Timber Sale – sales scheduled and sold through a sealed bid process with purchasers bidding a lump sum for all advertised trees.
- Pay-As-Cut Stumpage Sale – this method is the same as above; however, the bidder offers a price per scaled or weighed product instead of a lump sum.
- Negotiated Stumpage Sale – standing trees sold at market prices through a contractual agreement.
Forest Product Sales:
Forest product sales (other than standing timber) consists primarily of selling logs and some lumber. The division implements these sales by hiring contract loggers or utilizing state crews to deliver whole trees (stringers) to a central location for processing, sorting and selling of logs. These products are sold through a competitive bid process.
The sawmill at Zaleski State Forest will have a limited amount of surplus lumber that can be bought by the public. This lumber is sold on a first-come, first-served basis with no reservations. The price for sale is based on current Hardwood Market Review prices. The division may also sell lumber to other state agencies, local governments, or commercial buyers. Bundles of slab wood are sometimes available for sale in a limited amount.
Firewood permits can be purchased by the public for a set time frame to remove dead and downed trees along the marked forest roads.
Utilization & Marketing:
Along with the products resulting from silvicultural treatments, firewood sales allow for additional marketing of wood products. These public firewood sales provide a venue for forest staff to dispose of wood from storm debris and hazard trees. Firewood sales also promote good neighbor relationships with the public.
Contact a state forest manager if you are interested in obtaining a firewood permit.
The Science of Silviculture
The Division of Forestry actively practices forest management through the direct application of silviculture on Ohio State Forests. Silvics is the branch of natural science that deals with the principles underlying the growth and development of single trees and of the forest as a biological unit. Therefore, silvics provides the foundation of silviculture, which is the art and science of producing, tending and controlling forest establishment, composition, structure and growth. Silviculture is the most ancient conscious application of the science of ecology and arose before the word “ecology” was coined. Since it is impossible to shield forests from nature, silviculture is far more of an imitation of natural processes than of a substitution for them (The Practice of Silviculture, David M. Smith, 1986).
The Division of Forestry employs silvicultural practices in order to promote forest health on a landscape scale. Many scientists believe the prevalent eastern U.S. oak/hickory forests are declining and being replaced by more shade tolerant species such as red maple due to the lack of openings in the forest. Through harvesting we can create conditions more suitable for oak trees to regenerate from acorns.
There are two basic silvicultural systems used on state forests – even-aged and uneven-aged systems. Even-aged silvicultural systems manage trees that are approximately the same age with the goal of regenerating the stand. Even-aged treatments are separated into intermediate harvests and final harvests. Examples of intermediate even-aged treatments include improvement harvests or crown thinnings. Examples of final harvests include shelterwoods, seed-tree harvests and clearcutting. Even-aged systems are designed to promote the regeneration of tree species that are intermediate in shade tolerance or shade intolerant, in other words, species that require more sunlight for establishment.
Uneven-aged silvicultural systems seek to manage stands containing trees that are in at least three different age classes. Examples of uneven-aged treatments include singletree selection and group selection. Trees are removed in small gaps that open up the stand for younger trees to take their place in the canopy. Because these small canopy gaps are usually small, uneven-aged harvests favor shade-tolerant species such as beech and maple.
Silvicultural treatments are accomplished in two ways - precommercial or commercial treatments. The goal of precommercial treatments is to develop more healthy and valuable stands of trees for future management. Examples of common precommercial treatments include invasive plant control, grapevine control, and crop-tree release. Because these treatments do not generate saleable products, the cost must be carried forward until a commercial harvest is made. Commercial treatments are generally accomplished via timber sales.