The Importance of Access
When it comes to acquiring a parcel of forestland or managing the forest land you currently own, there are a lot of variables that determine how successful the process will be. The most common is the volume and value of the timber present, long term goals and state and local rules and regulations. Often overlooked however, is the issue of access.
Without Access The Most Valuable Timber Is Worthless.
There are many different variables when it comes to access. In a worst case scenario there is no access at all. This could be due to the parcel being landlocked or the topography preventing easy access to most of the property. In this case you will either have to establish a legal R.O.W. or get a temporary access into the property. Easier said than done – especially if your neighbors are not agreeable to it. However, with a bit of ingenuity, friendly approach and willingness to give in exchange for receiving – most of the time a useable R.O.W. can be established. When establishing a legal R.O.W. make sure that the width is defined (don’t settle for less than 50’) , what uses are defined (year round regular access is preferred) and is recorded in both deeds of the grantor and the grantee. Lastly, don’t put it together alone – this is the time where it is wise to spend money on a good lawyer.
Poor Access Is A Pain
In this case the property in question may have legal access or the property abuts a town or state maintained highway. However, the access is still poor. It may be just a trail into the woods, useable only during winter months, poorly constructed , not constructed at all or filled with tight corners. In these instances it is best to get the advice of a forestry professional. A forestry professional who is well versed in timber harvest operations will be able to look over the access road and determine what can be done to improve it. This might involve upgrading it and or re-configuring it so that it’s better accessible for truck and trailer access. When a road is so narrow that tractors trailers are prevented from using them – it greatly limits your ability to manage your forest efficiently. It also severely restricts the markets available for your timber. Today most of the wood being harvested is trucked rather long distances using tractor- trailers.
When you don’t have access good enough to use them, your only option is to have the wood trucked out using “ straight trucks” (trucks with no trailers) and sent to the nearest concentration yard. A concentration log yard will buy mixed, unsorted loads of logs but not pay nearly as much as if the wood is sorted on the job and shipped out to the best paying market -via tractor trailer.
Money Spent Upfront Pays Dividends Down The Road
Although it might hurt to pay - $ 3000 - $5000 (or more) to have the access to your property improved. The reality is that paying this amount of money upfront will bring in more money, over the long term, for your timber. It also has the added benefit of improving the real estate value of your property.
In most instances, the money spent on improving access will equal the extra money you can expect to receive from being able to ship to higher paying markets. This payoff will often be seen on the first harvest alone. It’s a small cost to pay for increasing the long - term value of the property.
No matter how good the wood is and how pretty the parcel if the access is poor it’s not worth much. Spending the time and money to make sure that your property has good access is time and money well spent.