Louisiana Land Bank

Recland Talks

123

Timberland - Are BMPs for You?

Are BMPs for You?

Brandon White

What are BMPs?  Best Management Practices are proactive methods or practices that have been determined to be both effective and practicable and used during forest management activities to prevent or reduce the amount of pollution by non-point sources to water quality while achieving related goals to silviculture, wildlife, biodiversity, aesthetics and/or recreation.

The following chart (Smallidge & Goff 1998) shows some various categories of BMPs and goals related to each of those categories.

BMPs can be divided into separate categories that relate to specific, if somewhat subjective goals. Goals specify the outcome of forest management activities associated with each category of BMP

Category

Common Goals

water quality

  • reduce or eliminate non-point source pollution; maintain water clarity, quality, and quantity for human consumption and fish and wildlife habitat

silviculture

  • maintain the desired stand characteristics, including adequate regeneration of suitable species

wildlife and biodiversity

  • provide habitat, food and cover for a variety of wildlife species; optimize diversity of native plant and animal species among stands (landscape approach)

soil quality

  • maintain soil characteristics to ensure the potential of the site to continue productivity at current and historic levels

aesthetics

  • create or maintain forest conditions that are aesthetically pleasing (entirely subjective and owner specific)

recreation

  • provide opportunities for land owners and/or the public to pursue desired, often multiple-use, recreational activities

Obviously, these practices will vary widely by region and state and actual implementation will be determined by many variables/constraints such as the biological and physical characteristics of a forest stand. These characteristics include topography, soil type, timber type and density, distance to water body or water source, etc. Other variables/constraints may include stewardship and financial interests of the landowner.

The key word in the previous definition is proactive.  Being proactive simply means planning ahead. Using the BMP handouts published by your state or consulting with a professional forester to pre plan any forest management activity is the first step in the process of implementing the proper Best Management Practices.

Timber harvesting or logging is the forest management practice most associated with BMPs. This is where planning is vital. For example, since in-woods rutting during a harvest operation is a major contributor to soil disturbance and erosion, the soil types that are present should be identified in advance. It can then be decided whether harvesting can be done during wet conditions or whether it is a dry weather tract only. The Sale layout (where the timber will be cut) is another major factor in planning harvest operations. The sale layout should include such things as: identifying, delineating and mapping tract boundaries, specific harvest areas, special sites if applicable, Streamside Management Zones (SMZs), logging/haul roads, sets/loading deck locations, etc.

Let’s use SMZs for a quick look at what could be considered on just one major factor…

SMZs: Can you avoid crossing them with skid trails and logging equipment during your operation?  If SMZs must be crossed, identify each logical crossing location, determine adequate or acceptable crossing methods and plan how those crossings will be treated after harvesting is completed.

Another example of an area for careful planning is deciding if building/pushing new roads is needed. Consideration should be given on where the road is located based on soil type, topography, will the road be a temporary or permanent and whether or not it will cross any streams.  If stream crossings are unavoidable, the same, if not more planning and care should be taken as with the in-woods crossing on skid trails. There are several BMPs that should be used to stabilize the roads after the harvesting is complete such as water diversion devices like water bars, rolling dips, wing ditches, silt screen or seeding. These should be used whether the roads are new or existing. If this is not done then all the pre planning was for naught.  By planning and effectively implementing the proper BMPs the likelihood of preventing and controlling nonpoint source pollutions is greatly increased. 

An obviously important factor to the effectiveness of BMPs associated with timber harvesting is the actual contractor doing the logging.  This is where having a forester that has worked with several local contractors can be critical. If you prefer to manage the operation yourself then do your homework and get as much information about potential logging contractors as possible. I know that Louisiana and Texas have training programs available to logging contractors that specifically teach and train them in BMPs.  You can find lists of these trained loggers on the state forest service websites or the Texas or Louisiana Forestry Association websites.  For Louisiana these trained loggers are referred to as Master Loggers and in Texas they are Pro Loggers.

This brief article is simply a quick and general overview of what Best Management Practices are, how they are used and why they are important.  While in most states these practices are voluntary and the law does not require the use of them, forest certification programs driven by market demand has elevated the awareness and implementation of BMPs.  These certification programs require that individual landowners, timber investment management organizations and/or corporations participating either meet or exceed the recommended BMPs for each state where they own timberland or operate a manufacturing facility. Whether or not you are required by law or by participation in a certification program, we as foresters and land managers strongly encourage that you implement BMPs whenever you conduct forestry activities. First and foremost it’s the right thing to do for the protection, conservation and overall health of our environment. Secondly, it goes a long way in public relations, personal impressions and general acceptance of forestry activities as a whole. And if you are a landowner with money invested in timber, the forestry industry is an important part of the equation for the overall value of your land.

Most states have some available material describing their own Best Management Practices and any regulations associated with those practices. This material will give recommendations, definitions and describe in detail the implementation of specific practices and procedures. In most cases their BMP manuals are available in both hard copy and digital form. See the links below to review the Best Management Practices manuals for both Texas and Louisiana. Other links are provided for the TFA and LFA websites for lists of trained loggers and other landowner information.

-  Brandon White is a consulting forester and a licensed real estate professional for RecLand Realty in Jasper, TX. Click HERE for his contact information.

Texas Forest Service - Best Management Practices

Texas Forestry Association

Louisiana Forestry - Best Management Practices 

Louisiana Forestry Association 


Read More...

Programs & Services Available to Texas Landowners

Programs & Services For Texas Landowners

This is a very thorough list of programs available to landowners compiled by Texas Parks & Wildlife. Click the link to download the PDF.


Read More...

2014 Biennial Longleaf Conference

10th Biennial Longleaf Conference,

9th Eastern Native Grass Symposium,

and 

National Prescribed Fire Council Meeting


Conference and Symposium Overview

The conference will be of interest to anyone managing or restoring longleaf pine ecosystems and the grasslands that occur across the eastern United States. Members of the longleaf community are invited to this 20th anniversary conference which is a homecoming event in Mobile, the site of the first Biennial Longleaf Conference. The Longleaf Alliance is happy to be cohosting this year’s conference with the Eastern Native Grass Alliance.  The 9th Eastern Native Grass Symposium will take place concurrently with the Longleaf Conference. This will add an important aspect to the event since grasslands play such a significant role in longleaf ecosystems. Additionally, a gathering of Prescribed Fire Council members will take place on Friday, October 24th. These meetings will combine to be a summit event appealing to private and public landowners, researchers, and students. 
Longleaf Store, Silent Auction, Celebrations, and more!

If you have ever been to one of the Biennial Regional Longleaf Conferences, you know that there is something for everyone. This 20th anniversary conference promises to do the same, and then some! In addition to a schedule of diverse speaker sessions, there will be a wide array of diversions for both conference attendees and guests. If you would like a unique memento from the event, the Longleaf Store will once again offer hard to find longleaf related merchandise and silent auctions scheduled throughout the conference will also provide the opportunity to acquire spectacular items that range from handmade pine needle baskets to hunting trips. Additionally, guest excursions are currently being planned to experience some of the attractions that Mobile has to offer. As always, the conference will peak with a Thursday night celebration on the beautiful waterfront of Mobile Bay.

Technical Field Trip

The conference field trip will consist of three sites that all use different approaches of longleaf management to achieve specific objectives. The first site will showcase a landowner’s approach to multiple use management including invasive species control. The second site is a gopher tortoise mitigation bank. Conference attendees will learn how this site is managed to meet the required objectives. The final stop of the field trip is Splinter Hill Bog, a longleaf savannah/seepage bog community containing large pitcher plant bogs managed by The Nature Conservancy. Lunch will be held at either the Mobile Botanical Gardens or 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center.

Exhibiting & Sponsoring, couldn't be easier!

Exhibiting options are available to all those who register for the symposium. Simply register as either affiliated with LLA or ENG and you will be given the option to "add" an exhibit to your symposium registration. You can see the pricing for exhibits on the 'Registration Fees' page at the top navigation bar. Sponsorships of the symposium are also available! Click here to view the PDF document explaining the sponsorship levels along with the sponsorship registration form. Please contact Tom Livers at tom@longleafalliance.org, if you have any questions or would like to talk further about sponsorships. We appreciate any and all support of the symposium! 


Read More...

22 inch East Texas Whitetail from 2013 Season


Tom Webb, friends with Brandon & Bridgette White, killed this 22 inch 10 point this past season in east Texas. His wife, Michelle, did this great mount and they are showing it at the Texas Big Game Awards. Glad to have them both as ProStaff members!





Read More...

Congratulations Sponge & Allison

Sponge Palmer, our agent in Mandeville, LA, has officially announced his engagement to Allison Lee!


Read More...

RecLand Welcomes Two New Agents

RecLand added two new LA agents today.

Lee Denny is a business man and land owner from Lake Providence, LA.

Kirk Scriber is a business man in Mandeville, LA with ties to the Pine Bluff, AR area.

Their information is on our contact page.



Read More...

Brandon White - Coyote Hunter


Apparently coyotes are color-blind in east Texas.


Read More...

How to Sell Your Land Quicker

Some tracts can sell with a single phone call just because they are that desirable or - like quality farmland - just in big demand. But let's be honest - most land needs a period of time on the market to find the right buyer for the right price. If it's cheap enough, it'll sell. If it's in big demand, it'll sell. But what can you do if your tract is not in those two fast-moving categories? Let's consider a few steps that can help.

None of these are a silver bullet solution to your land selling immediately, but taking care of some of these items will certainly make your tract more desirable to buyers who are becoming more and more discriminating.

1. Decide if you really want to sell. This seems simple enough but you'd be surprised at the number of owners who call a land agent, spend all day showing him the property and completing the paperwork to list the tract. They spend weeks fielding phone calls and emails from the listing agent with questions and offers from potential buyers...only to still be wondering if they really want to sell it. This situation is usually the real meaning behind the statement "If it sells, it sells...if it doesn't, it doesn't." It's common for people to be in a position to not have to sell a piece a property - and that's a good position to be in. But an owner needs to make a decision that the property has a price and if he gets that price he'll sell. Or if she gets an offer close to it, she really needs to think it through. That old saying "the first offer is often the best offer" is true more times than not. Being uncertain about your intentions to sell can cost you money.

2. Make a good first impression.  If you were buying a house, the last thing you'd want to see is the current owner's dirty clothes in the middle of the floor, a sink full of dishes or a car on blocks in the front yard. Those don't make a positive impact on a buyer when he shows up to look. Well, neither does a gate that won't swing open, roads that haven't been bush-hogged all summer or piles of trash and old appliances scattered around just off the main road. A little cleaning up and clipping the roads goes a long way in making a good first impression.

Just like a lived in home will have dings and battle scars, so will your land. No one expects it to be perfect. But take a look around and see what can be done to simply give it a fresher look. Hiring someone for a couple hundred dollars to simply bush hog the roads and trails in early summer could have a big impact on the buyers your land agent brings to see your property.

3. Eliminate the problems buyers don't want to inherit. That property line dispute you've had with Joe may seem like a little annoyance to you, but any new buyer will likely see it as a potential landmine he'd prefer to avoid. He'll just go buy something else. There are a whole list of issues that may be things we don't want to tackle, but most recreational land buyers are not looking for more problems...especially ones they may pay $2500 / acre for! They just want a nice place to hunt and bring their family and friends. Those issues need to be corrected before your property goes on the market. Here is a list of common problems that don't pass along very well:

No Legal Access - Most buyers avoid this situation like the plague. Talk to someone to guide you on getting the access you've always used made official and recorded in the courthouse. This step will likely cost you some money and some time, but it will make your property more valuable. It will also help sell it in a reasonable time period. If you can't secure legal access then be prepared to price the property accordingly.

Boundary Line Disputes or Uncertainty - People want to know where the lines are when they look at a tract. They want to see the corners marked. Get some prices and consider having a survey done. A survey will also clear up acreage issues that may come up prior to a sale that would cause delays or even a blown deal. If you have good corners, you can also hire a forester to lay in your lines. He can paint the lines or just simply flag them. You could go back and paint the flagged lines. Boundary disputes will come up with a serious buyer and a good land agent. It will get discovered and likely ruin the deal. Talk to your attorney and make a plan to get a permanent resolution to it.

Unopened Successions or Partial Interests - You have to have good title to be able to sell your land to most buyers. Unless buyers are familiar with partial interests, or you're selling it well below market value or you're selling interests in a larger tract (like a hunting club) you're wasting your time trying to sell an undivided share to the general market place of buyers. Property you inherited from a family member may be "yours" in sentiment, but it's not yours in title until the succession is complete and the judgment of possession names you as successor in title. Be sure that family property you have is 100% yours in title before you try to market it for full price.

Encroachments - If you know that your neighbor's barn is across the property line, get it resolved. There are also ways to manage encroachments so as not to allow it to become a form of adverse possession (where possession leads to ownership) over time. Sometimes encroachments can carry over to new owners with no real issues if they've been managed properly. Deal with it today so it's not a bigger problem tomorrow.

These are a few of the major issues that must be handled prior to putting your land on the market - and not just put off on new buyers - if you want the best price in the quickest reasonable time.

4. Roads, Trails & Crossings. Your tract may be drop dead beautiful down by that cypress slough, but if we can't get buyers down there to it...well, you get the point. Sellers will typically underestimate the value in passable roads, trails and creek crossings. But buyers notice them, or lack of them, right away. And they put more value on them being there than it usually will cost to put them there. Most buyers don't want to pay $450,000 for a project. They want to be able to close at 11:00 a.m. and be riding their 4-wheeler on the place before dark. You and I know that a decent dozer operator can cut a lot of trails for $100/hr. over a couple days and that a 36"' culvert can get us across that creek in the back, but most buyers don't solve that problem themselves. If you invested the time and/or money to get some of this done, you'd be half way to selling the tract before the buyer even shows up. Don't think that you need all-weather rock roads everywhere. Sometimes just 4-wheelers trails, bush-hogged and 1 and a 1/2 or 2 dozer blades wide, is enough to get around the tract and show off the highlights. Make the roads and crossings fit the type tract it is and the price you want to ask for it.

5. Price it Right. One of RecLand's best agents says this almost daily..."If no one's calling about it (your land) it's priced too high." He's right. However, all the high-roller action in the farm land market, pie-in-the-sky promises from weak land agents and what "land is selling for in________" (fill in your own unreasonable comparative area here) causes some people to expect the sun, moon and the stars for their 40 acre land-locked cutover. In our region of the country, if it's priced right - not under-priced! - but priced right, it will get some attention, some calls and will sell in a reasonable time.

Sometimes a buyer with different motivations will pay way more than typical market value for a tract. But that's not the norm. And waiting for that buyer to come along will likely cost you time and money in lost opportunity.

Get a good idea of what the market value of your tract is in a range. I'd rather hear someone say a tract will probably sell in the $1400-$1600 / acre range than try to hit the bull's eye with "I'll get you $1450 / ac for it." He doesn't know that for sure unless he already has a deal in mind and may be leaving some money on the table by not giving it some time on the market. The range of market value, when exposed for a period of time to many land buyers, lets you price it a little above the top of the range. This lets serious buyers know you are for real and presents the opportunity to get at or near the top of the range if it's a desirable place. When you get offers in the range, you can feel confident in making a selling decision knowing you're selling it for what it's worth.

Sometimes a property has enough uniqueness to it that we are not certain where the market values it. Or a seller insists on a much higher asking price than we recommend. In these cases we have strategies to help accommodate unusually high asking prices in order to meet the demands of the tract and still try to get it sold in a reasonable time.

Don't fall into the "Let's ask (sun, moon & stars) for it and see if someone will pay it." This is a bad idea if your goal is to sell the place for its real market value. Serious buyers will just avoid your listing believing that they'd be wasting their time doing any due diligence or trying to deal with that seller. They'll go look at more reasonable deals.

Every real estate company has overpriced listings. It's impossible to completely avoid. Have a reasonable idea of actual market value and what your selling goal is regarding time frame. Then price your tract accordingly.

Good land agents will guide you through the items listed here - and others that are relevant to your particular tract - to help you get the most money you can within the quickest reasonable time frame. These items have made this list because they've been discovered through many land showings and deals made. Give yours tract the edge it needs in a competitive market by doing the extras that will set it apart from the rest.

- Pat Porter

Click HERE to see our clients' land for sale in LA, AR, MS & TX.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Read More...

Louisiana Land and its Uniqueness

Louisiana Land – Louisiana Land for Sale

In Louisiana, the land is divided by Parishes rather than by counties, and there are 64 parishes in total. Louisiana is the only state that uses parishes instead of counties, though Alaska is divided into boroughs. The location of each parish in Louisiana has an impact on what the land is primarily used for, since location influences population density, climate and other characteristics. Some parishes in Louisiana are largely made up of larger acreages of land that can be used for a variety of purposes. Louisiana land tracts for sale can be utilized for hunting and recreational purposes, farming, timberland and income production, conservation purposes and many other uses depending on your needs.

How you intend to use the land is going to influence the type of land that you buy as well as the location. Each tract of land is going to be completely unique in its characteristics. That’s one of the great features of land…no two tracts are alike. Some will be heavily forested with timber while others may be row crop or pasture land. As they will vary significantly in terms of location, some tracts will be right on a waterway or will contain lakes, bayous or creeks while others will be in the hills and have no natural waterway. You should consider the qualities and characteristics of each piece of Louisiana land for sale to find the tract of land that suits you.

When purchasing Louisiana land, consider the qualities described by the seller or the real estate agent to get a feel for what the tract has to offer. A typical listing will tell you what you can expect to find in the area, such as what specific trees are growing there and what, if any, recent saw timber volume data is available, what mineral rights are available, or whether or not there is any development potential on the land. Good listing information will include details like the surrounding area if a hunting tract, crop base information if a farm, availability of utilities and access and should always include detailed aerial and topographic maps.

When buying Louisiana land, it will benefit you to consider many different options and locations throughout the state. Louisiana offers a wide variety of land types. The best way to get a feel for what’s available to you is simply to check out as many options as you can prior to making a purchasing decision or placing an offer on a piece of land.

Pat Porter is the broker for RecLand Realty, LLC. For more information about Louisiana Land for Sale, see his website at www.RecLand.net.


Read More...

Doing Your Due Diligence

Due Diligence…Verify, Verify, Verify

Doing due diligence on a tract of land you want to buy falls on the shoulders of one individual…you. No one will care about the deal any more than you. Prepare to do your homework. The depths of due diligence, and the items that will need to be discovered, verified and researched, will vary depending on the type of land and its intended use. Let’s consider a few basic areas related to rural real estate.

Due diligence starts with the purchase contract. Read it, understand it, ask questions about it and use it to fully detail the terms of the purchase as they have been negotiated with the seller. Your real estate agent should be diligent to help you document the terms of the deal clearly in the contract. Having the seller and buyer see “eye to eye” on the terms at this stage of the deal will reduce the chances of something going wrong for either party before closing.

Depending on the present use of the land, you will need to verify any number of items that will affect your future use of the tract. Have you seen the CRP or WRP contracts? Have you read the restrictions of the conservation easement, the deed restrictions or other encumbrances that will limit the use of the tract? What about that hunting lease or farm lease…does it match what you were told during the negotiating process? Ask to see the conveyance document on “deeded accesses” if you are unsure about that servitude.

If you plan to clear some of the tract for farming, development or even a new road, will you be clearing wetlands? Will that bridge you need require a 404 from the Corps or mitigation credits? Diligent buyers of farm land look for large diesel spills at wells and near full tanks and check for empty chemical containers dumped in nearby ditches or creeks to alert them of potential environmental quality issues.

Timberland buyers should understand the area markets and mills if buying a tract in a new area. Will the terrain allow complete mechanical harvest or are there acres that loggers just won’t work? Do you have good access to get your timber out?

Your closing attorney should be able to catch title issues that may cause you problems if left uncured, but you may need to specify that he look for items that are critical to your reason for purchase.  For instance, if you’re buying half the mineral rights, does that mean half of 100% or does the seller only own 50% herself? A general title search will not necessarily determine this information for you.

You can verify river stages, flood histories and FEMA flood plain data yourself online these days if the tract is in a marginal elevation area. But you need to do this. Ask your real estate agent to help you identify internet resources if you need them. Confirm the information you’ve been told if you’re unsure.

The list of items to verify goes on and on depending on the tract and its use. The point is to confirm, verify and understand all the major items that will impact you the hardest. The real estate agent is required by law to tell you about all material facts he is aware of that may impact the property’s value and use. The key is “that he is aware of.” Your agent may not know everything about every detail that is critical to you. You as the buyer are ultimately responsible to satisfy and protect your future interests with thoughtful due diligence.

Pat Porter is the broker for RecLand Realty, LLC. For more information about land for sale in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas, see his website at www.RecLand.net.


Read More...