Coalition of landowners, forest industry professionals, government officials, and supporters
54 Portsmouth Street, Concord NH

What is Current Use?

New Hampshire’s Current Use tax assessment law was enacted as an open-space conservation measure. It is a method of taxing land at its “productive capacity.” In other words, land is taxed as a woodlot or a farm, not as a potential site for houses. Because the taxes are consistent with the land use, it is easier for landowners to keep their open space undeveloped.  Current Use is a voluntary program in which landowners may enroll undeveloped land, 10 contiguous acres or more, in the program by applying to the municipal tax assessor.

For more information, go to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration’s website to view their Current Use booklet.

Is it important to select a certified logger to harvest timber?

How you sell your trees and how you select the professional contractors who can do the work for you are important considerations. These contractors can either perpetuate the many values of your forest for a long time or damage the land and its productive capability. Taking time to select the right logger for you is an important step in conserving your forestland for future generations.

The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension provides advice in their Directory of Licensed Foresters on how to choose and contract with a professional logger.

What are the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for timber harvesting?

Best Management Practices (BMPs) include a wide range of recommended techniques that can be used before, during, and after logging operations. Loggers, foresters, and scientists have developed these techniques from their own practical experience and research.

With the exception of BMPs designed to protect water quality, BMPs are voluntary. Good Forestry in the Granite State is the BMP manual for all other aspects of timber and forest management.

Are there state laws that apply to timber harvesting, and are regulatory permits required for such harvesting?

There are multiple permits required for harvesting timber in New Hampshire.  For a complete summary of the New Hampshire timber harvesting laws and rules, go to the UNH Cooperative Extension NH Timber Harvesting Law booklet.

Following is a brief summary of these laws/rules;

Timber Tax

In New Hampshire, timber is considered real estate and therefore is taxable. However, the method in which it is taxed is different from other real estate. It is taxed only at the time it is cut. Because of this unique means of taxation, landowners must first notify the municipal tax assessing officials prior to starting a timber harvest by filing a notice called an “Intent to Cut.”  This notice notifies local assessing officials and the N.H. Departments of Revenue Administration (DRA) and Division of Forests and Lands that a timber sale is being planned and the local municipality can expect timber tax receipts. Timber on all land ownership is taxable at 10% of the stumpage value at the time of cutting. (There are six exceptions that apply to timber cut for personal use.)

Forest Management and wetlands

Many timber harvesting operations encounter wetlands or surface water during logging and must implement measures to eliminate or reduce impact and obtain appropriate permits. If the proposed timber harvest will:

  • Place material, such as gravel, in a wetland or stream for a skid trail or truck road,
  • Place tree limbs (corduroy) in wetlands or drainage swales for a skid trail,

  • Place logs or rocks (pole/stone ford) in a stream bed for a skid trail or truck road,
  • Place logs or rocks in a stream bank for a bridge abutment,
  • Stockpile tree butts, slash, and debris in a wetland, bank, or waterbody,
  • Excavate a bank to install a bridge abutment,
  • Dig in a stream or wetland to install a culvert, or
  • Create machinery ruts in a wetland, bank, or waterbody,

A Wetlands Impact Forestry Notification (permit) must be filed with the N.H. Department of Environmental Services Wetlands Bureau.

Cutting timber near roadways and certain waterbodies

The basal area law (RSA 227-J:9) requires that forested buffers be left along town and state roads, streams, and bodies of water following a timber harvest. These buffer zones can prevent erosion, provide wildlife habitat, protect stream temperature and aquatic life, and preserve the aesthetics of the landscape.

“Basal area” is the cross-sectional area of a tree measured four-and-a-half feet from the ground. It is expressed in square feet per acre. Simply put, basal area is a measure of tree density on each acre of land. The higher the basal area, the denser the forest.

The law says that no more than 50 percent of the basal area may be cut or otherwise felled each year, leaving a well distributed stand of healthy, growing trees: 

  • Within 150 feet of any great pond (a standing body of water 10 acres or greater in area), a fourth order or higher stream, or a public highway, or
  • Within 50 feet of any other stream, river, or brook that is not a fourth order or higher stream whichnormally flows throughout the year, or any standing body of water less than 10 acres associated with a stream, river, or brook which normally flows throughout the year.

Slash Law

Slash is the debris left after a timber harvest. These branches, leaves, stems, unmerchantable logs, and stumps represent a fire hazard and often give a messy appearance to the landscape.   The slash law is intended to reduce fire danger caused by slash and to improve the aesthetics along roads and water bodies. No logging slash may be left:

  • In any river, stream, or brook that normally flows throughout the year, or any otherstanding body of water,

  • On a public highway or active railroad bed,
  • On the property of another, or in a cemetery,
  • Within 25 feet of the land of another, or fourth order stream,
  • Within 50 feet of any great pond (a standing body of water 10 acres or greater in area), a public highway, or active railroad bed, or
  • Within 100 feet of any occupied structure including all barns, sheds, and other storage buildings, except a temporary lumber camp.
  • Slash may not be more than four feet high within 50 to 150 feet of any great pond (a standing body of water 10 acres or greater in area) or a public highway.

What is timber trespass?

“Timber trespass” (RSA 227-J:8) is to negligently or recklessly cut, fell, destroy, injure, or carry away any tree, timber, log, wood, pole, underwood, or bark which is on the land of another person or aid in such actions without the permission of that person or the person’s agent. 

Timber Trespass: How to Prevent It From Happening To You (PDF Document)

What are deceptive forestry practices (RSA 227-J:15)?

“Deceptive forestry practices are the intentional or reckless misrepresentation of quality, quantity, price or unit of measure in the course of buying and selling of a forest product. The following are examples of deceptive forestry practices;

  • Uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or any other device for falsely determining or recording any quality or quantity as provided under RSA 438; or
  • Sells, offers, or exposes for sale or delivers less than the represented quantity of any commodity or service; or
  • Takes or attempts to take more than the represented quantity of any commodity or service when, as buyer, the person furnishes the weight or measure; or
  • Sells, offers, or exposes for sale adulterated or mislabeled commodities; or
  • Does not remunerate the owner of the timber for the value of the forest products pursuant to a written contract; or
  • Does not furnish the owner, upon written request, with all scale slips to verify the amount of the forest products removed from the owner’s property.

What do foresters do and should I hire one?

Foresters provide a variety of services to landowners, including management plan preparation, timber appraisals, timber sale administration, wildlife habitat improvement, boundary marking, timber stand improvement, and recreation and aesthetic improvements. In addition, some foresters may have particular qualifications and interest in providing assistance in land surveying, urban forestry and landscape, Christmas trees, taxation, legal, or other natural resource-related matters.  Foresters can assist landowners with achieving their management goals.

In New Hampshire, by law (RSA 310-A) foresters are licensed through the New Hampshire Joint Board of licensure.

You will find a link to the current list of foresters licensed in New Hampshire on this page. 

How much is my timber worth and what is “stumpage”?

There are many factors impacting the value of standing timber: the size and quality of the trees, size of the woodlot, access, and quality of the terrain, to name just a few. Quarterly, the NHTOA conducts a statewide survey of timber purchasers seeking timber value. We gather “stumpage value” (value of the trees still standing in the forest) and mill-delivered log values.

Average Stumpage Value lists

How large is the forest products industry in New Hampshire?

According to the North East State Foresters Association’s report titled The Economic Importance of New Hampshire’s Forest-Based Economy 2013, the gross state output (GSP) of forest-based manufacturing in 2011 was $2.4 billion, supporting 12,818 full-time equivalent jobs. Adding forest recreation, the GSP climbs to $3.8 billion, supporting 23,618 full-time equivalent jobs.  These figures place forest-based manufacturing among the top five manufacturing industries in New Hampshire. To see the full report, click here.

How do you figure wood by the cord?

In New Hampshire there is only one legal way to sell wood, and that is by the full cord. A cord of wood measures 4 feet wide x 4 feet tall x 8 feet long. This is true regardless whether the wood is in log length, 4-foot bolts, or cut and split. The smaller the pieces of wood, the more compact the wood piles and the more wood fiber is actually in the pile. The amount of “shrinkage” when the wood is bucked and/or split is highly variable, depending on the size of the logs and how straight they are. Small, cracked logs cannot be piled very efficiently and will have a lot of air (space between the logs) in the pile. When these logs are cut, split, and piled, the pile might add up to only half of the original volume. Moreover, it takes a lot more effort to cut and split a cord of small wood than to cut and split a cord from larger logs.

There are some rules of thumb. There about 2 cords (log length volume) to 1,000 board feet of logs. A tri-axle log truck holds 6,000 to 7,000 board feet of logs. That would come out to about 13 (log length) cords per tri-axle truckload. Once it is cut and split, the wood will be much more compact — as much as 25%. So you might get 9 actual cords of wood from a tri-axle truckload of logs, or a pile of firewood, cut to 16-inch lengths, 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and about 200 feet long. Actual yield will vary depending on the material in the load and how well it is packed.

For more information or further clarification on any of these questions, contact Jasen Stock, NHTOA Executive Director, at (603) 224-9699.