NSWOOA Update 20: January 2009

Above, NSWOOA member Rodney Spencer's Woodmizer portable sawmill in action. Details below. Photo by Susan Danko.

In this issue:
Are you interested in becoming FSC certified?
Portrait of a portable sawmill and its owner
Annual Meeting general notice and corrected venue
Opinions requested
Why have a management plan?
Time to re-enlist
Chainsaw classes
Excerpt from Restoring the Acadian Forest
How to reach us

Hello Woodlot Owners!

Another Way of Thinking About …

… the Hippocratic Oath?

"You know, the oath doctors have to take! Goes way back to the Greeks," explained my friend from high school days—the same friend who had authored a series of articles on economics, education and entrepreneurship in our local weekly newspaper. It was not at all clear what this oath had to do with rural development and woodlot management, which along with the said economics, education and entrepreneurship, were the topics of that particular discussion.

Noting my puzzled expression, he explained, "I believe the first concept of the oath can be summarized as 'First, do no harm.' If you are in the woods and deciding what to do to your land, I think the concept that should guide you and underlie all your actions is that whatever you do, do no harm. In other words, if down the road what you do to your woods will hurt it, hurt the wildlife, the water supply, or your future economic benefits, do not do it."

OK, admittedly, he did not say it in those exact words, and as these discussions happened over the course of a year, what is recalled here is more of a distillation and simplification. Although the concept itself is sound enough, and can be applied to almost any endeavor, it had faded into the background until the Voluntary Planning meeting in Truro in October. The meeting was called to get reaction to "What We Heard", a report on their series of public meetings.

At that meeting the Hippocratic Oath came to mind because it is similar to a concept that was discussed there. Quite a few of those present put forth the concept of the Precautionary Principle as one of the themes they thought the VP people missed from the public consultations. What is this principle? Well, it states that if an action or policy might harm the public or the environment, those who want to pursue this action or policy should be required to prove that it won't be harmful. It was felt that unless it could be proved that there were no negative outcomes to various policies, practices and developments, they should be disallowed.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if either or both these concepts were recommended by VP in their final report, and adopted by the Government as guiding principles for our future forests?

Certification Opportunity

NSWOOA President Lorne Burrows confirms that the NSWOOA, working with Nagaya Forest Restoration Ltd., has signed a contract with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources to bring five new NSWOOA member woodlots into FSC certification. The project will cover most of the costs to the landowners and is funded from the Community Development Trust.

Of the five woodlots chosen, one has been completed and certified, and four are "making progress, or nearing completion."

There is a very good chance that the project will be extended and expanded, so if any NSWOOA member is interested in becoming FSC certified, he or she should contact the NSWOOA or Nagaya as soon as possible.

We would like to build up a list of those interested in having their lands FSC certified. Documented demand for this service will help secure future funding. Call the number listed at the end of this Update, or contact us by email.

Portable Sawmill Gets Around

Susan Danko and Rodney Spencer own an FSC-certified woodlot, and are long time members of the NSWOOA. This article was originally published in their local paper. We thank Susan for allowing us to reprint it here.

By Susan Danko

Rodney Spencer has seen many local woodlots during the past two years. From high on Nuttby Mountain, to sea level along the Gulf shore, he has set up his Woodmizer portable sawmill in barnyards, fields, building lots and woodlot landing areas, ready to turn logs into lumber for his customers. "It has been both interesting and rewarding to observe the diversity of local woodlots and learn about traditional uses of different tree species," says Rodney. "I am happy I can assist local woodlot owners to utilize their own resource for themselves and their neighbors, and it seems I learn something new with every job. People have so many creative ways of accomplishing tasks."

Customers have used lumber produced by Rodney's sawmill for everything from repairing barn stalls to construction of a two-storey barn and a 2,400 square foot new home. Projects include renovations and new construction of barns, sheds, garages, decks, porches and houses. Craftsmen have used local lumber and beautifully patterned hardwood for interior finish carpentry, cabinetry, and furniture making.

"No job is too large or too small," Rodney emphasizes, "nor do we have a fixed geographical area. It all depends on the circumstances. If we have to travel a little farther but we can leave the mill on site for several weeks, then that might work out just fine. I do lots of one day jobs in the local area, and occasionally people bring a couple of logs to me in their pickup truck. Sometimes people just bring a few planks or beams to me for re-sawing into custom clapboards or other specialized pieces for renovations on older homes."

Rodney adds that customers who require graded lumber for building inspections have easily obtained inspection of their lumber through a number of different solutions including inspection by a local licensed grader, using the call grading service of the Maritime Lumber Bureau, or obtaining an engineer's certification of lumber quality. All lumber produced by his sawmill that has been graded has met and exceeded quality requirements.

At the recent Woodlot Owner of the Year field day in Nuttby, sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources on the woodlot of Russell McNally, Rodney demonstrated the accurate and consistent sawing for which Woodmizer sawmills are renowned. The portable sawmill can saw logs up to 21 feet long and 36 inches in diameter without modification, and longer logs with some adjustments. It features hydraulic log loading and turning and an automatic debarker to speed up the milling process. A separate resaw attachment is used to saw custom clapboards in any width from 4 to 12 inches.

"Using a portable mill will save you trucking the logs to a mill," says Adrian Samson, Forest Resources Technician for the Department of Natural Resources, "thus saving you a few hundred dollars and helping the environment. You get to use the slabwood and edgings for firewood and kindling and the sawdust for mulch. The small kerf of the bandsaw compared to a circular saw gives you more lumber especially if it is high quality wood." He also notes, "The lumber can be custom sawn such as quarter sawn for woodworker use. By the way," Mr. Samson adds, "wood sawn with a bandsaw is easier to plane and sand than if you had it rough sawn with a circular mill."

Rodney usually charges an hourly rate of $35 per hour for time sawing on a job. The woodlot owner and/or other people helping the owner work alongside to offload the lumber and slabwood. On a job with good saw logs, an efficient setup and good help, Rodney has produced as much as 2,300 board feet in six hours. The quality of the logs has the greatest impact on productivity. "Trying to get lumber out of pulpwood is inefficient," Rodney says. "It pays to be practical when deciding what logs to saw." Rodney always prefers to visit a job site even before the logs are stacked to help arrange the most efficient setup.

"I find a big advantage of working with the sawyer is you get to see what the round log looks like with its exterior defects," adds Mr. Samson. "Then, while being sawn you get to see some of the beautiful grains and patterns these 'defects' actually can produce. By doing this you can then select individual trees on your lot for that purpose, knowing what these standing trees may produce. This is great for artisans and furniture makers."

Portable sawmill service can also help woodlot owners deal with a current widespread problem. "We have a very large number of spruce being killed by our native bark beetle across the province," says Mr. Samson. "The sawmills are not normally wanting trees after they are dead, but these trees still can make good lumber for individual projects. A landowner can cut the trees and put them at a landing area and have a portable mill saw them. If the lumber is not to be used for a while it can be stickered to dry and top covered with a tarp until needed."

Rodney admits he loves to meet new people, and he has developed a great respect for the hardworking and innovative farmers and woodlot owners he has come to know. "I believe strongly in using local resources locally," he says, " and I hope that my portable sawmill service enables local people to achieve that goal."

Annual General Meeting Notice

Change of venue notice: The NSWOOA Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday April 18. As the venue used the past several years is unavailable that date, the meeting will be held in the United Church Hall, in Old Barns, just outside Truro. The program for the meeting is still being assembled, so stay tuned for the theme and agenda.

A Membership Privilege: All NSWOOA members attending our Annual General Meeting are invited to put up a table-top display of their products and services. Pamphlets, business cards, photos, samples are welcome for timber and non-timber products, as well as services.

Opinion Piece

Premier Danny Williams is not shy about protecting Newfoundland or its citizens. His government recently gave notice that it intended to "take back" timber and power rights from a multi-national pulp company that had decided to close shop in Newfoundland. He seems to consider it as re-patriation, and he refers to a specific agreement the Province had with the original owners of the mill. The question for us is, How would we like to see our government in Nova Scotia respond to mill closures, and the timber rights and property of the closed mills? Your opinions and observations are solicited. Give us your advice and recommendations by our email address or phone contact number.

UAM Notes: Management Plans Part 1

By Patricia Amero, RPF

In the last NSWOOA Update I discussed the two approaches to forest management: even-aged management and uneven-aged management. Whether you apply one or a mix of these approaches depends on what you want to achieve from and for your forest and what you have to work with—that is, forest conditions. These two factors are also the basis of a forest management plan. In this issue of the Update I'll explain why woodlot owners benefit from having management plans. In February I'll discuss how management plans are developed, what they contain, and what they cost.

A forest management plan can be fairly simple or quite detailed. Generally at a minimum the management plan provides documentation of your forest and tips on what you can do to improve it. If you do plan to do any work in the woods, the management plan will tell you what could be done to achieve your objectives and where to focus your efforts. Recommendations are not etched in stone but do provide you with direction on where and how to proceed.

Why have a management plan done?

Even if your plan is quite simple and you do not plan to do any harvesting in the near future, a management plan will tell you what you have and where it is—including whether you have any unique areas or special management zones (e.g., riparian areas, species at risk), where the best opportunities are for growing high-quality forest products over the long term, and whether you have potential for non-timber forest products, recreational activities, or other benefits of woodland ownership.

Having a management plan may be extremely helpful in coping with tax implications of woodlot ownership. A management plan may help you to qualify for the Intergenerational Land Transfer program, under which you may be able to pass your woodlot on to the next generation without burdening them with capital gains tax. It may also help to ensure that your property continues to be designated as forest resource, with lower property taxes than if it is designated residential. (Tax issues are complicated and depend on individual circumstances, so typically you would have to consult with a qualified professional in order to determine whether and/or how you can derive tax benefits from having a woodlot management plan.)

If you do plan to harvest, having an inventory that includes wood-product volumes allows you to place a current value on standing wood volume. A management plan also can determine an annual allowable cut or sustainable harvest level dependent on land capability and amount of mature (merchantable) trees present. This information will be extremely useful in planning harvesting and silviculture activities and in any negotiations with contractors.

In addition, a management plan may help you to identify stands/areas that are eligible for silviculture funding, which will help offset cost of improvement work. A management plan can also help you to obtain forest certification, which is increasingly important in making forest products attractive to consumers. A forest management plan is a first step towards achieving certification.

Next issue: How is a management plan developed? What does a management plan contain? How much does a management plan cost?

Time to Re-enlist

As the NSWOOA comes to the end of a very active, very successful year, we remind you that memberships are on a calendar year basis from January 1 to January 1. So if you haven't already sent in your membership renewal or are interested joining our organization, this is the time to do so. A copy of our 2009 membership application form is available here at our website.

If you have any questions about membership, please feel free to contact Member Services Coordinator Flora Johnson at the NSWOOA email address or 902-673-2278.

Please note that all member subscriptions to Atlantic Forestry Review begin and end on May 1. Subscriptions must be paid for no later than the middle of April.

Where to Start?

Many first-time woodlot owners wonder how to start managing their newly acquired land, or even how to cut some firewood. Sometimes the answer is as simple as, "Pick up your chainsaw." If you are not already proficient with a chainsaw, better advice is to start by taking a chainsaw operating and maintenance course. It is interesting to see that some old barriers are falling, and women are now commonly participants in these courses. Besides the opportunities advertised below, groups of interested chainsawers can always organize their own training session. Contact the NSWOOA for info.

The following two workshops cost $10 per person. There is a limit of 20 participants in each workshop. To pre-register or for information, For call (902) 424 -5444 or visit www.gov.ns.ca/natr/extension/woodlot/course.htm#course

Western region

Date: Saturday, February 07, 2009
Location: Milton Canoe and Camera Club, Liverpool, NS
Time: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Central region

Date: Saturday, February 28, 2009
Location: Goffs Fire Hal, Goffs, Halifax Regional Municipality, N S. (near Robert Stanfield Airport)
Time: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Black Cherry

The following is excerpted from Jamie Simpson's book Restoring the Acadian Forest: A Guide for Woodlot Owners in the Maritimes, P 168. The book is due to be published this January 30. Meanwhile, Jamie is taking orders for the book at this email address (bocabec@gmail.com). The price will be $20, including shipping.

"Black cherry is found scattered in rich hardwood and mixed-wood areas throughout most of southern New Brunswick and western Nova Scotia. It is shade intolerant and fast growing, reaching a height of 23 m (75 ft) and living up to 200 years. It attains its best growth in moist, fertile soils. Black cherry is sought after for its valuable wood, and was probably more abundant in the past than it is today, so it should be promoted wherever it occurs. It can be included in restoration plantings on rich soils in full sun." (Emphasis added)

Lines of Communication

Members are encouraged to contact the Board of Directors, the Executive and other members through our email address (nswooa@gmail.com) or by phone (902-633-2108 or, for member services, 902-673-2278). Please feel free to use these methods to keep us informed of what is going on in your woodlot or in your community or area. We try to keep you informed through these updates, newsletters and mail outs, our column in Atlantic Forestry Review, the Annual General Meeting, and this website.