Shawn Montee Timber Company Timber Appraisal

1-800-664-9821
Local: 208-772-3024
Fax: 208-772-3029


P.O. Box 2028
Coeur d’Alene Id 83816


 Timber Harvesting

This page will provide an introduction to, and an overview of, the most common types of timber harvesting operations. Most of the information and photos that you will find on this website relate to timber harvesting in the North Western United States. The process of timber harvesting is carried out in a number of steps, starting with the felling of the trees and finishing with trucking the logs to the mill. For this process, a number of different forest harvesting machines are typically combined to form a harvesting system. With careful harvest planning, it is possible to select the best harvest system that will be cost effective and safe for any given site.

Harvest Planning
There are two stages of harvest planning - preliminary pre-harvest planning and comprehensive harvest planning. A pre-harvest plan is a fairly simple plan commonly prepared by a "service" forester or forestry consultant for a forest landowner prior to conducting a timber sale. It normally identifies recommended streamside management zones as well as potential problem areas like fragile soils or steep slopes that may require special treatment during the harvesting operation.

A comprehensive harvest plan is much more complex and detailed. It is usually prepared by the logger or logging manager just prior to beginning the harvesting operation. The logging plan may include recommendations on logging roads, log decks, streamside management zones, stream crossings, skid trails, and the schedule of activities. The logging planner must have the following information at his disposal:

The type of cut (clearcut, row thinning, individual tree selection, etc.). Will trees be removed from the streamside management zones? This could affect deck size and location, equipment restrictions or job layout.

The terms of the timber sale contract. For example, the length of time on the contract may dictate the time of year that the tract will be logged, which may impact the haul road construction standards.

The tract topography. In the mountains, topography will often limit the logger's options for road and deck location. In addition to slope, aspect and exposure should also be considered.

The tract soil conditions. Soils will affect road and deck location, Soils also impact equipment decisions and scheduling of activities.

The tract hydrology. Knowing how much water to expect in a stream after a big rain will affect decisions on stream crossing structures.

The tract boundaries, easements, and rights-of-way. This information is necessary to locate access points and haul roads.

The timber volumes to be removed by species and product, and the distribution of those volumes across the tract. This information is vital for determining haul road standards, deck size and location, and scheduling.

The logging system and equipment spread. The planner must be intimately familiar with the characteristics of the logging operation, including any equipment limitations or operating constraints. For example, the type of log truck (tandem or tractor/trailer) will impact the haul road layout, acceptable curve radius, and landing size.

The applicable laws and regulations affecting logging, including the current non-regulatory BMP's. These will affect all aspects of the harvest plan. There are several tools available to the harvest planner. Topographic maps, available from the U.S. Geological Survey, are a must in the mountain regions. In the mountains, every logging planner needs an instrument to determine percent slope by degree of accuracy. An accurate estimate of slope is necessary to maintain acceptable road grade, determine spacing between required water-bars, and comply with various BMP recommendations. Plastic flagging of various colors is an important tool for the logging planner. Boundaries, log deck locations, "back-lines" for skidding zones, streamside management zones, and designated skid trails can all be effectively marked and distinguished by flagging of different colors.

Perhaps the most important tools available to the harvest planner are his legs and eyes, to be used in a thorough, on-the-ground reconnaissance of the tract to be harvested. This "walk-through" will often uncover important features that maps, no matter how accurate, will not show.

Harvest Methods: Most commonly used.
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Conventional ground-based system (flat to moderate terrain)
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Mechanized ground-based system (flat to moderate terrain) -
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Cut-to-length system (flat to moderate terrain)
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Cable logging /Yarder (steep terrain)
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Helicopter logging (steep terrain)
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Harvesting Process: The process of getting the trees from the ‘stump to mill’ can be broken down into 5 steps.
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Felling - Severing the tree from the stump and bringing it to the ground.
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Extraction - Pulling the tree from the forest area (or ‘stump’) to a landing or roadside.
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Processing - Delimbing and topping the tree, and then cutting the stem into logs (‘bucking’).
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Loading - Sort, stack and then load out onto logging trucks.
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Trucking - Deliver the logs from the landing to the mill for processing.