Shared firewood? Neighbor is cutting my trees!

by Jay
(Va)

My wife gave the neighbor permission to cut wood on our property. She did it two years ago and I complained because he took most if not all of the easy wood and I had to walk to hard spots for wood last year!

It seemed to me that he was taking a lot more than he was giving back to us. Last year he cut somewhere else and I was upset that all the easy wood had been taken the year before.

In my opinion I really can't afford to just be giving the wood away as we use wood heat, have maybe two weeks at most stocked, and really need what I have for now and years to come.

My question is that if he is cutting on my land for free how much of what he cuts should be left for us?

We have 66 acres but only about ten or so in burnable hard wood. He seems to be thinking that he can take blown over trees and broken green wood that I was wanting for future years. I don't want the neighbor to freeze as I know he does not sell the wood, but I need to make sure I am getting my share. I really wish he would just cut somewhere else but I don't want to cause problems.

I was thinking he should leave me at least half, not necessarily split and stacked but at least cut. He comes with a friend and cuts and hauls while I am at work and that makes me nervous!

Please give me any insight you can. Thanks so much!


Answer

Jay,

It sounds like you have a bit of a predicament on your hands. I wish that I could give you a definitive answer, but I don't have anything concrete for you.

Normally, when a logger or wood cutter harvests trees on a woodlot, they pay the land owner what is known as stumpage. Stumpage is the price of standing timber after logging and trucking expenses have been accounted for. Stumpage will vary based upon your region, the species and grade of the logs, the wood market, and the operating costs of the logger. Realizing that your neighbor isn't trying to make money, and you are only using the trees for firewood, stumpage doesn't really apply in your case.

It basically comes down to what is mutually beneficial for both you and the neighbor. Is it worth it as long as he provides you with some of the firewood?

If it was me, here's what I would do: Tell the neighbor that he can continue to cut trees on your property for firewood, but only the trees that you mark. Get some marking paint or ribbon and pre-mark which trees you want him to cut. This will allow you to manage your woodlot more effectively.

Secondly, decide how much of the firewood you want for yourself. Is 50% of the firewood enough? If so, tell him that you'd like half of the wood cut up (not split and stacked) and piled in a central area where you can process it at a later time. This will save you time in preparing your firewood and should make it worth your while for him to continue harvesting on your woodlot.

The rest is really up to you. My opinion is that unless the situation is beneficial to both parties involved, it probably isn't worth the effort. So decide what makes it worthwhile for you and your neighbor and continue from there. That way you give him the option to decide if he wants to continue cutting on your land. If he doesn't want to, at least it was his decision which may help you avoid problems in the future.

Good luck and I hope that the problem gets resolved!

-Firewood Matt

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Nov 02, 2015
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Oct 10, 2010
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Thanks for your input
by: Anonymous

From what I have been hearing from friends that have been using wood heat for years, which I have not, they say that its normal and common courtesy to leave half what is cut not split and stacked especially when the person cutting knows that you use wood for heat and that you only have a weeks worth split and stacked on hand. I told said neighbor that I wanted him to leave half of whatever he cut for me to process. Well I went out looking and he has taken three trees this week that I can find and left me maybe a half pickup load! I think his math is not so good!

I am going to speak with him today and either tell him to only cut when I am present or to find another place to cut all together which is what I am feeling I should do. Anyway thanks so much for your input.

-Jay

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