Listen as Pat Porter, Land Broker at RecLand Realty, talks about harvesting timber on a large, mature hardwood tract that is enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The tract being discussed was enrolled in the WRP program to create a permanent wildlife habitat. Contrary to what many landowners have heard, timber harvesting can be done on a WRP tract. Granted, it is a process – a restrictive process – and landowners must go through the proper channels.
You might ask, now why would a landowner want to harvest timber on a WRP tract? There are times a harvest has to be done to create a habitat we all desire. It can also create capital for the landowner, as well as help ensure a more diverse property.
This tract has a heavy tree canopy, due to crowded growing conditions. There is very little understory (shrubs and trees that grow in the shade of taller trees), which has been stunted by the lack of sunlight. A timber harvest would open up the canopy, allow sunlight, and therefore more vegetation could grow.
Pat has been involved from the beginning, acquiring the proper permits with the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), meeting with a state forester, state NRCS officials, and getting the paperwork submitted through the chain of command. He has been working with a forester to take inventory, and who has conducted a detailed cruise by volume and by species. Foresters will go in and mark a cross section of species and types to ensure that a diverse stand of timber will remain that will be beneficial to all types of birds and wildlife.
To sum it up, landowners can manage timber on land encumbered by conservations easements – WRP and CRP – but it must be done in conjunction with the overseeing authorities. Timber harvesting on a WRP tract is not something a landowner can figure out for themselves. It requires a detailed plan. However, if done properly, it will put some money in the pocket of landowners, but most importantly the property will be better for future generations of hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.
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