COLFAX, La. — Central Louisiana landowners heard that managing forest resources is a good investment during a recent gathering in Colfax, La.

More than 120 landowners atteneded the educational session sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and others to learn about the latest timber marketing concepts, tax issues, estate planning, timber production techniques and environmental issues.

"Managing our forest resources is a good investment," said LSU AgCenter forester Barry Crain. "And when properly managed, the land will return income similar to other long-term financial investments."

Many small forest landowners harvest their trees only once or, at most, a few times during a lifetime, so it is hard for them to remember or keep up with the latest marketing techniques and obtain a fair market price for their timber.

"This workshop was planned to help the small landowner maximize his or her profit and reduce environmental impact to the land," said Crain.

Most non-industrial landowners fail to recognize the resources available to them in determining timber inventories, tree counts, volumes of different tree species, quality of timber, timber value and marketing timber to obtain the most return.

"Planning is the key," said LSU AgCenter forest economist Mike Dunn. "The most important decisions are made at planting, so landowners should get professional help, prepare the site and plant good trees."

The LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, forestry consultants and timber companies will help landowners with their forestry needs, said Donald Baker, a consultant forester.

"Forest landowners should take advantage of their services; some offer free services and will help improve the profit," said Baker. "Also, landowners should take advantage of the forestry incentive programs.

"When selling timber, be sure to mark trees, develop an inventory and have a good understanding of what is being sold," said Baker. "Then make sure you are getting top dollar for the trees being cut."

Legal and ownership issues developed into a major discussion during the workshop as Paul Spillers, a lawyer and landowner, answered questions from the audience. Most questions pertained to settling estate problems, clearing title problems, dividing property ownership, writing a will and settling boundary problems.

"This workshop is very good," said Jack Carter, a forest landowner. "And I think Paul Spillers did an outstanding job answering questions on the legal issues.

"I want to improve my land and leave it in better shape," said Carter.

The workshop was sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and Mississippi Extension Service through a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

Two similar meetings were held in northwestern Louisiana and southeastern Louisiana earlier in the year. A final workshop in the series was held recently in Grambling, La.

"We inherited 75 acres of timberland at Bayou Chicot that needs to be thinned, said Curtis Clark. We learned a lot about timber marketing at this meeting, and it will help us sell our timber."

For more information on forestry-related issues and other forestry programs, contact Barry Crain at 318-473-6605 or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

John Chaney writes for the LSU AgCenter. (318–473–6605 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu).