PCHS Forestry Students Learn from Local Consulting Forester, john Wayne
On October 26th, 16 Forestry Students in Mr. Scott Garber’s class at Pocahontas County High School were provided the opportunity to spend the afternoon with John Wayne, a local Consulting Forester from Green Bank. John Wayne – no relation to “the Duke” – talked with the students about the opportunities and challenges of being a consulting forester.
The program is part of the West Virginia Consulting Forestry Forum, or “WVCFF”, and was presented by Dr. Dave McGill of the WVU Forestry program and Pocahontas County High School was the only high school where the program was presented. The other locations were all colleges, including Glenville State College, and Allegany College in Maryland. The first half of John Wayne’s presentation was done in the classroom, then the group moves out onto a tract of forest near the school that the school’s forestry program uses, where John continues his presentation.
John Wayne explained to the students that there are several different types of foresters. Some consult strictly on good forestry management, others work strictly with forestry programs on public lands, and some are Procurement Foresters who work for sawmills finding timber for the mill to buy. Consulting Foresters, like John Wayne, work with and represent landowners who want to sell their timber. The consulting Forester is hired by the landowner to assess the value of the timber to be sold; ensure the boundaries of the property to be timbered are clearly defined; marks the trees to be removed; establishes a road plan for the logging company to access the timber; and negotiates with the timber buyer or logging company on behalf of his client, the landowner. Once a deal is struck, the Consulting Forester stays involved, making frequent inspections of the timbering operation to ensure that the logging company operates properly and within the terms of the contract.
John explained that he received both a Forestry Degree and a Surveying degree and license from Glenville State College. He explained to the students how important having that surveying license is to his business as it gives him a competitive advantage over his competitors who have to pay an outside surveying company to establish the property boundaries on every timber track they consult on, while he can do the survey himself, saving money.
John told the students that he keeps his business simple, offering a multitude of services and only hiring temporary part time workers when he needs them on a particular job.
He talked about how he works with landowners, and some of the issues he runs into dealing with them, explaining that a common issue is that a landowner has an unreasonable expectation about the value of his timber. John says he has to educate them that the value of a stand of timber is not just the amount of wood it contains, but the type and size of trees on the property and the presence of any tree diseases or pests. He said that while most landowners want to ensure that any logging job preserves the appearance and value of the property, some absentee landowners do not care about how bad the logging job is. A common misconception among landowners is that clear cutting is always a bad thing, and John has to educate them that sometimes clear cutting is the best thing to ensure quicker regeneration of quality trees on a piece of land.
John advised the students that the future of the timber industry seems to be having logging companies scale down their equipment to be able to economically timber small tracts of land -5 or 10 acres. There will be a lot of those smaller sized parcels which are too small for big logging companies to bring their equipment onto. He said that companied using small dozers or even horse logging will have good futures in the timbering industry.
John advised the students to get experience in the summers working in the timber business. He also recommended that students interested in becoming Consulting Foresters should not only get a college forestry degree but should consider taking surveying, accounting business and computer courses in college.
In part two of this story, we interview Dr. Dave McGill about the West Virginia Consulting Forestry Forum Series.