Selling Timber

by Duane Friend

Illinois woodland owners have sold over $250 million worth of timber over the last decade. Truth be told, that financial figure should be much, much higher. The following information comes from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and U of I Extension.

If you or a family member is contemplating having timber harvested from a property there are many important factors to consider. Selling timber from your property is like any other transaction where major money will change hands. Your timber should be viewed as an investment and should be handled as such.

Careful thought should be given to who you allow to come upon your property and remove these trees.

Have the trees that are to be harvested marked so you know exactly what you are being paid for. Having a professional forester to do this is highly recommended. The forester can also prepare or show you how to prepare a timber sale contract. NEVER MAKE A VERBAL CONTRACT WITH A TIMBER CUTTER!

It would benefit you to prepare a comprehensive list of buyers for your area.  Your Illinois Department of Natural Resources district forester can provide a list of buyers. If you hire a consulting forester, they can assist in the sale and provide a list of buyers.

Ask questions from a prospective timber buyer. Ask for references. Call those references and check on the work of the buyer. Ask to see a copy of their buyers license.

Understand what you are going to be paid and when payment will be made. The best is to have all money paid up front before the timber is ever cut. Make sure the contract states if payment is not received as agreed to the contract is immediately terminated. This is very important! You must pay attention to how much timber is removed and when to have an accurate accounting. Also find out exactly where the cutter will be taking your logs. If you know where they are being sold you can double check on the saw mills paperwork to make sure you are not being cheated.

A timber tax fee must be paid, which is deducted from your payment and must be submitted by the timber cutter, to the IDNR Forestry Division on a quarterly basis.

Explain and show or mark the boundaries to your timber cutter before the job is started. Be a good neighbor and notify surrounding landowners before the harvest. If you are not sure of the property lines get together with your neighbor before the job is started.

For more information on timber harvesting, contact Illinois Extension State Forester Jay Hayek at, or your local IDNR forester. A listing of IDNR foresters can be found at

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About the author

Duane is an Educator with University of Illinois Extension in the Calhoun/Cass/Greene/Morgan/Scott unit.

View all articles by Duane Friend

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