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Writing Forestry Contracts

Note that whenever you enter into a contract or other legal agreement, you should consult with an attorney or other appropriate licensed advisor (such as an accountant, tax preparer, surveyor or realtor) if you have questions. The DNR foresters cannot provide specific legal or tax advice or act as your agent.

Hiring a consultant

When you hire a consulting forester or work with an industrial landowner assistance program, get a contract or a letter of agreement. A written agreement will help avoid misunderstandings and make clear what is expected. Each agreement should fit the landowner's needs and be mutually acceptable.

Some of the things to consider in your contract with a consulting forester:

  • location and description of the property;
  • description of services to be performed;
  • time frame in which services are to be performed;
  • form in which the information, advice and reports will be provided;
  • ownership of data such as timber inventory, survey notes, computations and analyses;
  • responsibility for determining and marking property or project boundaries;
  • assurances that the forester or company will meet all legal requirements for the work to be performed and that workers' compensation, liability protection and other labor and safety laws are met for persons working on your property;
  • contract performance and quality standards (including penalties for failure to meet contact specifications);
  • frequency of inspections or other supervisory duties (in the case of timber harvests); and
  • amount you agree to pay and the schedule for payment.

Selling timber

View this document on understanding the sample timber sale contract [PDF]. Sample contracts are also available in Acrobat [PDF] and Microsoft [Word] formats.

To find out if any complaints have been filed about a logger, you can check with the Consumer Protection Hotline run by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) at 800-422-7128.

If you are planning to sell timber, you will need a timber sale contract between yourself and the timber buyer. The contract should cover the terms of the harvest, including the following:

  • location of the timber being sold;
  • time period in which cutting can be done and when the contract expires;
  • species and volume of timber being sold;
  • purchase price and payment procedures;
  • utilization requirements such as stump height, log lengths and cutting to a minimum top diameter;
  • how cut products will be measured if the sale is not based on a lump sum payment;
  • damages to be paid for improper cutting or damage to property;
  • performance bonds or escrow accounts, if any;
  • type or size of equipment to be used and how cut products will be moved out of the woods;
  • location of logging roads, skid trails and log landing areas;
  • erosion control precautions or site restoration requirements;
  • riparian area or stream crossing concerns;
  • weather related limitations;
  • disposal of solid waste, trash, waste oil or other debris generated by the logger;
  • disposal or reduction of logging slash (limbs and tree tops);
  • compliance with cutting notice laws or other logging ordinances;
  • supervision of the sale, including authority to halt logging if contract provisions are being violated;
  • liability and workers' compensation insurance;
  • final inspection to assure contract compliance; and
  • other issues of concern to the buyer or seller.