Trees - When to cut down?

I have about an acre of land here in Michigan and it has several large trees in the heavily wooded back part of the property. I would like to thin it out by cutting the large trees - maple, oak, hickory, cherry - but feel guilty about cutting something that has been growing for 50-80 years. On the other hand, the smaller tress will grow when the larger one are removed and it seems like it would be better to harvest these trees in their prime instead of cutting them when they are almost dead. I would probably sell the trees if possible and just take a few boards from each tree. Of course the wife thinks its a crime to cut a tree down so I have that to deal with. I would like to cut them. Anyone else had these thought? Rich Durkee
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Why do you want to cut down the big trees; for the wood? Our local cooperative extension runs a course on wood lot management. You might want to look into something like that, though a acre is not much of a wood lot.
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Rich Durkee wrote:I have about an acre of land here in Michigan and it has several large

buy it. Maybe. Oh, and build her something nice.Tom
Work at your leisure!
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comEDY says...
Contact a local forestry agent to survey the property. They will provide you with a realistic approach to maintaining and preserving your timber for now and the future. Sometimes it is best to thin out some of the timber in order to better maintain the long term stability of any forest.
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On 11 Jun 2004 09:21:13 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Rich Durkee) wrote:

Don't listen to a word anyone says who hasn't visited the site. There's an awful lot involved here, mainly about how to manage the site. Do what's best for the site and what's going to remain growing there long-term, not just felling a couple of trees for timber.

You don't get boards out of a tree. Trees make logs, logs make flitches, and after a few years you can think about splitting the dry, stacked flitch up and taking a few boards out. Before you get to this stage, you've had to deal with a few different people, two sorts of sawing, quite possibly a couple of big trucks and a couple of years in a storage yard / shed.
I'd suggest talking to the Small Woods Association, Wood-mizer or similar and finding a list of local foresters, lumberjacks, sawyers and timber yards.
The practicality and value of this depends on what you're dealing with, how big it is and how accessible. Except for walnuts, it's not worth bringing a bandsaw mill on-site for just a couple of trees. Access so that a log truck with a crane can pick them up directly makes it a lot more viable, as you can take the logs to the saw, not v.v.
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Smert' spamionam

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Hobby bandmills are abundant in most rural areas of the US.
First the extension forester, then the yellow pages or schmooze to find a good saw to remove marked trees. Which are recommended will depend on _your_ management objective for the site, as well as its suitability to the desired species. They can answer those questions.
When is an easy answer - winter, when the sap's down, the branches and interlock easily visible, and the frozen ground makes for less damage from skidding.
Time from tree to furniture is about two years in MI if you stack outdoors for a year, though 4/4 lumber has seen < 6% after eight months in my basement. If you've got the space and an indulgent spouse, reserve part of the basement for the first to be used.
http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/TMU/publications.htm are the real experts
(Rich Durkee) wrote:

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It still takes time to set them up though. Until you're sawing something like the third or fourth tree, you've paid more for the sawyers time in driving over and erecting the mill than you have for them doing useful sawing. Of course you can do this, but it can double the cost of a singleton compared to a whole stand.
I sometimes use an LT-15, which is the smallest Wood-mizer. Another local guy has a 25, with all sorts of hydraulic handling gadgets. Although the 15 is definitely slower to saw on, because you're lumping the log around by hand and turning it with a cant hook, the economics are generally better. It has fewer parts, is much cheaper to buy, and the set-up time is less.
I've also worked on some sites where it has taken a day of digger or shovel work to build a flat sawyard space up first, before even bringing the bandsaw on site.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Rich Durkee) wrote in message

In terms of value, there have been a number of studies that indicate mature trees on a residential parcel increase the perceived value of that parcel by as much as 25%. Is the wood that you can potentially recover really worth even a 10% increase in value of your property - especially after deducting harvesting and milling costs?
These are residential trees. To a sawmill, trees grown near houses are very likely to contain metal. If the mill finds any metal there will be a significant deduction in price depending on where the metal is and how much is there. Most metal is found in the first 6' of the butt log - guess where the most valuable lumber is.
Then you have 50-80 year old maple, oak, hickory, and cherry. Any of these trees could easily live for another 200-300 years - so you would not be cutting them in their prime but at a fairly young age. They may be close to economic maturity from a forest management perspective, but this is a residential lot. I think they will gain more value as large specimen trees for real estate value.
How do trees grow? Tree height growth is largely a function of site quality. Trees of a given age grow taller on better quality sites. There is very little that you can do to improve site quality significantly. After 50' or so height becomes largely irrelevant in visual impact as seen from the ground.
Tree diameter on the other hand is largely of function of tree density - how many trees grow on a given acre. If you remove some of the smaller trees, the larger trees will have more resources and will grow in diameter much faster. From a visual impact point of view, larger diameter trees are much more attractive to most people.
So the take home message - seriously consider saving the big ones and thinning the little ones. Developing the "heavily wooded" part of the property as a woodland garden is likely to have a bigger impact on the value of your property, and possibly your own enjoyment of it, than the few boards you would net from a harvest. That of course is without ever having seen the site or the trees in question. I do have over 20 years experience as a professional forester.
If you had many acres that were not residential, I would likely make a very different recommendation.
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