Record stumpage sales projected
By Jared Raney
Oneida County Forestry Department projects a revenue total of $1,735,000 for 2015 stumpage.
Stumpage is the price on standing timber, which is used to contract timber harvests. Projected revenue is dependent on the ability of lumber contractors to harvest through the fall.
The current projection is $20,000 over the existing all-time high for Oneida County, which was set just last year.
John Bilogan, Oneida County Forest Director, said the numbers are the result of a “perfect storm of events.”
Not only were conditions—a wet spring, wet summer and shortage of wood statewide—perfect for wood harvest, but a delayed reaction to a change several years ago in the allowable cut for sustainability has provided a boost.
“It took a while to get there,” Bilogan said. “We just happen to be coming into our own in Oneida County forests right now.”
According to Bilogen, about two years ago, the allowable cut went from 1,500 to 2,000 acres per year, which means at that time they could start assigning contracts with higher numbers, but because timber contracts range from two to five year contracts, the higher allowable cut didn’t come into play until last year.
Eventually, in about four to five years, Bilogan said, the allowable cut will decrease again, finding its way back to about 1,500, but revenue should maintain this upward trend.
“Theoretically, the age of our forest will show,” Bilogan said. “In the size of trees, the diameter… even though we’re cutting less trees, the cost will stay up.”
The surplus in cash from the high timber sales will roll back into the County general fund, helping allay budget constraints.
In October, the County reached an all-time record high for a single month at over $336,000, putting the year-to-date sales at around $1,325,000. In order to stay on track, November and December sales need to come in at above $400,000.
Unfortunately, sales aren’t just dependent on harvest numbers, but also market fluctuation. A warm winter, though it will be easier for harvest, could actually lower the cost of lumber overall by saturating the demand.
“Right now we’re still on track,” Bilogan said. “November and December are traditionally the highest months… they can make or break you.”