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The Masswood Forestry Company, LLC
19 Roberts Road
Sandisfield, MA 01255
(413) 258-2839

info@masswood.com

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The Masswood Forestry Company provides a broad range of services to landowners in central New England and the Hudson Valley region of New York. Masswood begins the process of forest management by meeting with the landowner to discuss his or her objectives and concerns for the property. The landowner has the opportunity to walk through the forest with a forester from Masswood at this meeting, which is at no charge to the landowner. The forester recommends a program of forest management based on the landowner's objectives and the condition of the forest. Masswood provides the landowner with a written description of the scope of the recommended projects and a binding estimate of the cost of Masswood's services.

Masswood provides the following services to owners of forested land: (click on the links below to go to that information)

Forest Inventory and Management Planning   

Silvicultural Planning

Timber Harvest Planning and Administration

Recreational Trail Design

Wildlife Habitat Protection and Enhancement       

GPS Mapping       

Easement Planning       

Timber Tax Planning

Photo of Oak Trees
Forest Inventory and Management Planning

Masswood conducts a quantitative inventory as the first step in managing a forest property. During the inventory a forester measures trees at systematically located plots. The resulting data is compiled to provide information about the species composition, health, age distribution, and timber volume of each forest stand on the property. Masswood's foresters also take the time to observe wildlife sign, understory vegetation, land use history, and other characteristics of the forest which are important to management activities that do not focus on timber production. The inventory data forms the basis of the management plan for the property. Masswood's management plans describe the current condition of the property, list the owner's objectives, and recommend management activities designed to meet those objectives. Each management plan is unique - the recommended management activities may include wildlife habitat enhancement, construction of recreational trails, clearing trees to create a viewshed, intermediate or regeneration timber harvests, timber stand improvement, or other activities. In some cases the cost of preparing a management plan may be reduced through partial funding from the SIP (Stewardship Incentive Program) federal cost share program.

Silvicultural Planning

Masswood's foresters carefully plan forest management activities to achieve desired forest conditions. Masswood uses forest inventory data and observations to assess the current condition of the forest. Inventory data provides information on species composition, age classes, size classes, forest health, timber quantity and quality, and the presence or absence of desirable regeneration. Masswood also talks with the landowner to ascertain his or her management objectives for the forest. If timber production is an objective, then management activities will be designed to increase the long-term quality and quantity of timber in the forest. If timber is not an objective, forest management will focus on maintaining and enhancing forest health and biodiversity.

Masswood develops silvicultural prescriptions based on the current conditions of each forest stand and the landowner's objectives for that stand. Prescriptions are generally either intermediate treatments or regeneration treatments. Intermediate treatments are designed to improve the health, growth, and/or timber value of the trees that are presently in the upper crown classes of the canopy. Regeneration treatments are designed to establish a new age class of trees beneath the existing canopy, and to allow that new age class to replace the existing stand.

Timber Harvest Planning and Administration

Many forest management objectives may be accomplished by harvesting trees. Desirable trees can be encouraged to grow by removing adjacent undesirable trees, thus reducing competition for sunlight and other growth resources. Trees weakened or killed by insects or disease can be removed from the forest before they infect healthy trees. Mature stands of trees can be partially cut to encourage the development of a new age class of trees. Wildlife habitat can be improved by creating openings in the forest and by releasing trees that produce hard mast for forage. It is very important that the goals of the timber harvest are clearly defined, and that the harvest is designed to achieve those goals. Many landowners have been severely disappointed by poorly planned timber harvests that reduce the long-term timber value and ecological integrity of their forest.

Acting as the landowner's agent, Masswood plans and supervises all aspects of timber harvest projects. Masswood normally provides the following services over the course of a timber harvest:

¨ Plan the silvicultural prescription to achieve the landowner's objective for the stand to be harvested.

¨ Lay out the timber sale boundaries.

¨ Delineate wetland resource areas and identify rare species that should be protected during harvesting, and lay out appropriate buffer zones.

¨ Plan access routes for log trucks and harvesting equipment.

¨ Obtain all required state and local permits for timber harvesting and wetland crossings.

¨ Mark the trees to be removed in the harvest in accordance with the silvicultural prescription.

¨ Summarize timber volume by species and size, and provide the landowner with an estimate of the stumpage value.

¨ Market the timber harvest to local loggers and timber buyers, and solicit bids for the right to cut the marked trees.

¨ Write a timber sale contract that requires the logger to pay the landowner on time, to protect the land from damage during harvesting, and to release the landowner from all liability pertaining to the logger's work.

¨ Supervise the harvesting operation to ensure that the terms of the contract are fulfilled and that the silvicultural goals of the harvest are achieved.

In order to eliminate any potential conflict of interest Masswood is paid an hourly rate, rather than a percentage of the timber revenue, for services pertaining to timber harvests.

Photo of Timber HarvestPhoto of Timber Harvest Photo of Timber Harvest

Photo of Snowy Woods
Recreational Trail Design

Many of Masswood's clients want to develop a system of trails on their property. Walking to hilltops with a view of surrounding forest, open wetlands that harbor numerous species of birds, dense stands of hemlock, and other areas of ecological interest is one of the many joys of owning forestland in central New England. Masswood designs trail systems to meet the objectives of each landowner. Trails can be wide enough for horses and ATVs, or smaller for access only by people on foot. No vegetation is removed until the landowner approves the trail routes marked in the woods. In some cases trail building projects can be partially funded by the SIP cost share program.

Wildlife Habitat Protection and Enhancement

The forests of New England provide habitat for many species of wildlife. In many cases, the wildlife habitat value of a forested property can be enhanced through the management process. Masswood assesses the current wildlife habitat value of a forest and recommends activities to increase habitat value. If enhancing wildlife habitat is a management objective, the following activities may be appropriate:

¨ Create openings in the forest to provide early successional habitat (herbaceous and shrub vegetation) that has become less common during the past century. Openings benefit many species of birds. Openings can be created during timber harvest projects.

¨ Create brush piles for small mammal and bird habitat. Brush piles provide shelter for many species of wildlife, and are particularly valuable when they are placed at the edge of an opening or near two distinct forest types.

¨ Maintain or create young, dense stands of conifers such as hemlock. These stands provide shelter and thermal cover for wildlife.

¨ Build and maintain habitat structures such as wood duck boxes, bluebird boxes, and bat boxes to encourage those species to nest on the property.

¨ If necessary, create large-diameter snags and cavity trees. Snags and cavity trees provide food and shelter to many birds and mammals. There should be at least three snags greater than 12 inches dbh per acre. Snags can be created by girdling unhealthy or otherwise undesirable trees.

¨ Protect rare or unusual habitats such as vernal pools, rock outcrops, caves, and bordering vegetated wetlands. These areas contain a large portion of the biodiversity of the forest ecosystem, and should be protected from disturbance during timber harvesting and other forest management activities.

Partial funding for wildlife habitat projects may be available through federal cost share programs such as SIP (the Stewardship Incentive Program) or WHIP (the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program).

Photo of Tree with Beaver MarksPhotoPhoto of Tree with Cavity
GPS Mapping

Masswood has a GPS receiver capable of mapping walking trails, property boundaries, and other important features of forest properties. Masswood uses the GPS data and published maps (topography, soils, etc.) to create maps of the property in the ArcView GIS system. These maps are very useful for planning forest management activities, and also for navigating extensive trail systems.

Image of GPS Map
Photo of Stone Wall Easement
Easement Planning

Clearing of forestland for development is one of the greatest threats to the long-term health and biodiversity of New England's forest ecosystems. Many forest landowners want to protect their land from development indefinitely, and are interested in placing conservation easements on their land. In most conservation easements, the development rights to land are donated to a non-profit organization that will hold those rights indefinitely. Title to the land remains with the current landowner, and can be transferred to heirs or sold to another individual. Regardless of who holds title to the land, clearing for development cannot occur so long as the conservation easement remains in effect. Although development rights are the most common subject of easements, other rights such as timber harvesting could be included in an easement if the landowner so desires. Masswood is currently developing conservation easements for a large property in Sandisfield, Massachusetts.

Timber Tax Planning

Revenues from a timber sale are taxable as income, and many landowners pay more tax than they need to. Masswood can help landowners maintain records of timber sale expenses that can be used to offset income for tax purposes. Masswood can also help landowners calculate the basis of their land and timber investments, which can further reduce the tax owed when timber is harvested or forest land is sold.

Photo of Wetlands
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