Thursday, January 7, 2010
County board talks hauling
By SUE WATSON
In an effort to recover costs of road damages caused by timber cutters and haulers, the board of supervisors discussed one location in District 3 where about 200 loads of timber could be harvested this winter.
The problem is twofold for lots of tree farmers explained Eddie Pou, retired county forester and now consultant with the tree farmer/landowner.
Harvesting in the Bubba Taylor Road area was a concern to Keith Taylor, District 3 supervisor, who weighed in for the taxpayer who ultimately will have to pay for repair of county roads damaged by heavy logging trucks. County roads are not built to standards of state roads which hold up under 84,000-pound loads.
Pou explained that the landowner has been in the farming business for six generations and that timber is harvested only every 20 years or so. Meanwhile, every year, the landowner is paying taxes on his farmland, he said.
If the landowner has to pay for all of the damage done to roads by haulers, there could be no profit at all in harvesting, he said. In fact, wintertime is the worst time for damage to roads from the heavy cutting and hauling equipment, but it is also the time when farmers can get the highest price for their timber. Prices slump in summertime when it is easy to get logs out of the field. The slump in construction has just about wiped out profit margins in the timber industry, he said.
Taylor complained that the road had just been paved and now the trucks have found every weakness in the road.
County administrator Larry Hall said the road was almost free of potholes but was “accommodating local traffic until y’all came in.”
Pou said trucks were carrying about 22,000 pounds, lighter loads in order to minimize road damage. He said profits Marshall County tree farmers get for their timber is less than for those tree farmers located nearer to the mills. Those further away from the mill have to pay more for hauling and that cuts into their profits.
“These people paid taxes 28 years and came out (of the field) one time,” he said.
A Mr. Miller who was doing the hauling of the timber on the property in question said he could pay for some rock to be put in the soft spots but he could not pay for repaving of spots damaged.
“I’ll agree to pay for some rock, but there’s not enough timber to pay for the road,” Miller said. “I’ll have to quit. It is a bad time of year to haul.”
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett agreed that buyers pay more for timber in winter because the mills need it, but they do not need as much timber in summer.
“We cannot say you cannot cut in winter months,” he said.
Pou said tree farmers are oftentimes caught between the “landowner, supervisor, and logger.”
Taylor agreed the timber needs to come out of the field.
“At the end of the day, timber people make money and I think they are responsible (to fix the damage),” he said.
Hall said his road crews have been sent out to cut out the soft spots and fill them with crushed rock to minimize the damage that is being done while supervisors decide what they can do to protect road surfaces.
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