January 5, 2006 | By: Terri McLean

Few people would turn down the opportunity to double their money with only a minimal investment. Yet, when it comes to Kentucky’s 400,000 forest landowners, far too many appear to be doing just that.

Doug McLaren, Extension forestry specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, hopes to soon reverse that trend. He and other forestry professionals from UK’s Department of Forestry and the Kentucky Division of Forestry have organized the first “One Acre at a Time” woodland owner seminar Jan. 30 at McConnell Springs in Lexington. The goal, he said, is to increase awareness of the present value of Kentucky’s woodlands and to encourage owners to “invest” in their future by properly managing the timber on their land. 

“Much of the time, forest landowners do not totally recognize the present and future value of these hardwood stands,” McLaren said. “These trees and the valued products they produce have monetary value.”

Nearly 50 percent of the state is forested with some of the most valuable hardwoods in the world – oak, maple, hickory, walnut and ash among them – McLaren said. Those hardwoods are used to make countless products, from simple bark mulch to highly structured engineered beams for construction.

“It has been estimated that the entire forest industry in Kentucky is valued at $4.6 billion and has a work force of nearly 30,000 employees,” McLaren said. “The money that is directly paid to the landowner is a much smaller amount of this $4.6 billion, but it is a known fact that with any forest management that is performed in the timber stands across Kentucky, the landowner is going to easily see a doubling of value of their timber income in the next sale that they have.”

Forest management might include harvesting areas of timber, culling out low-value trees and planting new trees. As with row crops such as corn and soybeans, a good management plan provides forest landowners with an increased yield, McLaren said.

“A row crop management plan is usually for six or seven months, while a forest management plan is long term. Both give you higher production and a greater end value return,” he added.

The time it takes for a hardwood forest in Kentucky to reach maturity – 80 to 100 years – often discourages landowners from investing in their timber stand, McLaren said.

“Yes, forestry is a long-term investment. But during this ‘rotation,’ stems within a stand have to be removed to make room for the residual stand. The management practices done within the rotation, practices referred to as improvement cuts, can also provide income,” he said.

Additionally, many landowners have trees in their stands that are already mature enough for harvesting. 

“They could get in there now and have two, three, four harvests,” McLaren said.

Much of this information – and more – will be presented during the two-hour seminar, which is part of a forest health project between the Natural Areas of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Parks and Recreation, Kentucky Division of Forestry and UK’s Department of Forestry. Registration begins at 5 p.m., with the seminar at 6:30 p.m. A workshop prior to the seminar, “How to Use a GPS Unit,” will be at 5:30 p.m. Cost for the seminar is $5 a person; the workshop is free

To register in advance, make a check payable to Department of Forestry and mail to: “One Acre at a Time,” UK Department of Forestry, Lexington, KY, 40546-0073. For more information, contact the Department of Forestry at (859) 257-7597 orjsmith@uky.edu.


Doug McLaren, 859-257-2703