The human side of the timber business

Editor's note: Harvesting timber in Randolph County is done primarily by local landowners and loggers, while large corporations do the buying and processing. The NC Forestry Service and independent foresters offer advice. A Focus on the impact of timbering in Randolph County concludes today with the perspectives of property owners and loggers.

ASHEBORO -- Arnold Lanier has been involved in the timber industry all his life, working in his family's business.

A full harvest of a timber crop can take half a person's life, so it isn't for someone lacking in patience. Most landowners in the timber business have other sources of income, as does Lanier.

"Most (timberlands) are on a 40-year program," he said. "You do a first trimming after 15 to 18 years, depending on how it grows. The soil has a lot to do with it."

After another 12 to 15 years, loggers do the second trimming. When the site is clear-cut, the landowner normally reseeds for the next harvest.

Lanier said his family plot was thinned in the 1990s and it's "about ready for the second trimming." He said that of the 100 acres of timberland, they try to cut in three stages of about 35 acres each.

However, a few years ago after a major ice storm, they had to thin out the damaged trees. "Now the trees are big enough so ice won't break them. It's an interesting cycle."

The process

Landowners cut trees for different reasons, including some who do it just to pay the property taxes. But, he said, there are government programs to assist homeowners with the cost of reseeding. Those funds come from the timber industry, not from general taxes.

Pines are set out in rows of 8 or 10 feet. During the first thinning, logs may be used for 2-by-6 or 2-by-4 lumber. Crooked trees are sent to pulp mills to be converted into paper.

Lanier said sawmills now are computerized and cutting is done by bandsaws.

When hardwood stands are cut, the land is usually reseeded with pine, although poplar sometimes comes up as "volunteers." In the Piedmont, hardwoods require longer to mature than pines, so landowners prefer to go with the quicker harvest.

Sometimes land that is clear-cut is put into pasture. "We always put something back on it," said Lanier. "You always get a return if the land is maintained right."

He said landowners differ in how they do cuttings. Some remove as much of the debris as possible while others leave the smaller debris for erosion control.

"You can get $1,000 an acre on a first trimming after 15 to 18 years."

County legacy

A member of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners for 12 years, Lanier was turned out by voters in the March 15 primary. But he has left his imprint on the county during his three terms.

He was involved in the push to develop a regional landfill. During a tour of the area he noticed stands of mature trees and suggested that the county could profit from them with a harvest.

"The first sale was 200 acres," said Lanier. "We got enough money to fix the old courthouse."

It was during the Great Recession that the 1909 Historic Courthouse was renovated, using proceeds from the sale of the timber and labor from county employees who otherwise could have been laid off.

"We still have mature timber," he said. "We sold another patch for $180,000. There's more near the RCC (Emergency) Training Center."

Lanier emphasized that clear-cutting requires leaving buffers around streams for environmental protection of the water and for wildlife.

The dirty work

Josh Leonard and crew were finishing up clear-cutting 35 acres on Staleys Farm Road south of Asheboro. The chipper was going full-blast, making mincemeat of pieces not large enough for lumber.

The site was being cleared of most debris, although some was too small or gnarled even for the chipper. But some debris left on the ground is good for the environment.

Leonard said he has been logging for 15 years, now with Falling Oak Timber LLC. Once when he was working alone with a chain saw, he said, a tree fell the wrong way and gashed his hand, causing him to call his wife for help.

"My daddy came and started working with me," Leonard said. "I shouldn't have been working by myself to start with. That was stupid."

With Falling Oak, Leonard has the latest equipment to work with -- no more chain saws except for special circumstances. Monster machines grab trees, cut them at the base and drag them from the woods.

Other machines pull fallen trees to the loading area and dump material into the chipper. The wood chips are then blown into a 53-foot trailer.

To protect the well-traveled areas from disturbance, the ground was covered by chips. Sometimes gravel is used to prevent rainwater from washing down to local streams.

"We use the chipper to clean up," said Leonard, adding that government regulations require vegetative buffers on both sides of streams. Otherwise, "we have to cut what the landowner says. Some want buffers to hide the cutover area from highways."

Expensive chips

The acreage where the Falling Oak crew was working was being cleared in advance of the NC Zoo Connector which will be part of the US 64 southern bypass around Asheboro. The owner chose to harvest the timber before the NC Department of Transportation makes an offer for the portion of the land to be used for the roadway.

That's probably one reason for cleaning up the debris with a chipper. But it comes with a price.

"Chipping is costly," said Leonard, "but I guess it pays for itself."

Companies buy the chips for processing into biomass solid fuel, wood pulp, for mulch in gardening, landscaping and restoration ecology, as well as other uses.

"If I had timber, I would want the chipper," Leonard said.

Call county ranger

before cutting timber

The NC Forest Service county ranger asks that landowners call before they cut at (336) 879-1773. Also recommended is that landowners use a consulting forester and have a sound contract for the timber sale. Examples are on the website,, which also has good information on water quality regulations.

According to the county ranger, right now hardwood prices are at an all-time high. Usually, large tracts are cut but now there are several 5- to 20-acre tracts being cleared.

Portland Arts Tax due today, as tax day falls on Monday

PORTLAND, Ore. If you live in Portland, your Arts Tax is due Monday. If you do not pay it, you could face a late penalty of up to $35.

This annual tax, approved by voters in 2012, supports kindergarten through fifth grade art and music education in Portland area schools. It also supports other arts programs sponsored by local arts organizations.

Its due from all Portlanders with taxable income of $1,000 or more. Anyone who moved into or out of Portland during 2015 is required to pay the Arts Tax.

It is our hope that most Portlanders will choose to file and pay online, said Revenue Division Director Thomas Lannom. Paying online is fast and easy, and keeps administration costs low so more money flows to schools and arts organizations, he added.

Adults who earn less than $1,000 or are below the poverty line must still file a return to claim an exemption.

Tax day falls on Monday, April 18th this year, not the 15th, because of a holiday in Washington DC

If you are mailing your general taxes, The Portland Post Office at 715 Hoyt St, and the Eugene/Springfield Gateway Station, 3148 Gateway St. in Springfield, will collect mail from the blue collection bins outside until midnight.

If you are using the blue collection boxes elsewhere, double check the collection times, and get your documents in before that last collection time.

If Monday isnt enough time for you to file your taxes, you can also request an extension, but you cannot request an extension for the Arts Tax.

Is the I-395 Extension Really Necessary?

"If you build it, they will come."

Constructing a baseball field for the use of ghosts involves a giant leap of faith. But extending an interstate highway further into the hinterlands requires something more like denial.

I'm writing this week about the proposed extension of Interstate 395 here in the Greater Bangor region. The project has been on the drawing board for 16 years, and has taken on seeming unstoppable momentum. It calls for approximately six miles of new four-lane divided highway between the present end of I-395 in Brewer to join with Route 9 in Eddington.

The project carries an estimated price tag of $61 million. Eight homes will be displaced, and another 54 properties in Brewer, Holden and Eddington will be affected. The rationale for the road, according to the Bangor Daily News, is to "ease heavy truck traffic and improve safety on nearby routes 46 and 1A, while also creating a more direct link from Canada to the US Highway system." The route is slated for completion in 2025.

The only problem with this logic is that it won't happen. No road yet built has ever, in the long term, eased traffic. If you build it, they will come.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but it's true. "For decades, traffic engineers have observed the capacity of more highways to simply breed more traffic," wrote Jane Holtz Kay in her 1997 book Asphalt Nation. More roads encourage more people to drive, at a rate faster than new roads can be constructed. You can't build your way out of traffic congestion.

Has Interstate 395, for example, eased traffic on the Brewer strip? Getting from Bangor to Bar Harbor on a summer day is still an automotive gauntlet. Widening the road in places has not alleviated the congestion. It has encouraged people to drive faster, making the road notorious for periodic horrific accidents. And the bypassed strip seems busier than ever.

Writing for the energy and environmental website Vox, Joseph Stromberg succinctly summarizes the problem: drivers don't pay for the roads. More than half of all road costs come out of general taxes. New road construction is a massive government subsidy for the owners of cars and trucks. People (and companies) choose to drive because their government encourages them to.

Back in my youth, I had a job for the Ellsworth American, which at that time printed many of the small weekly newspapers in eastern and northern Maine. One of my duties was to drive up to Dexter twice a week - first to pick up the "flats" that would be photographed and turned into plates for the American's then state-of-the-art offset press system, then, two days later, to deliver the printed papers. This was before Interstate 395 was built. I used to make a game of driving through Brewer and Bangor, hitting as many green lights as possible. Eleven traffic lights interrupted the route between the beginning of the Brewer strip and the end of Outer Broadway on the far side of Bangor. There are more lights today, and bypassing the strip via the interstate does not enable you to avoid all of them.

One might argue that the Brewer strip would be even more crowded today had the bridge and the interstate never been built. But that is at least debatable. Those same public dollars could have been invested in a light-rail system linking Bangor and Bar Harbor, for example, or better bus service, or both. Sinking money into roads delays the day when we can begin to move away from the dominance of cars and trucks toward a more integrated and diversified transportation system.

The most efficient way to move freight is by intermodal transport, in which the same container fits on a ship, a train, and a truck. Rail remains the most efficient way to move freight, especially heavy cargoes, over long distances. The Maine Department of Transportation estimates that one freight train can do the work of 280 trucks.

We don't have an insufficiency of road capacity; we have an overabundance of vehicles. Doesn't it make sense to pursue policies that will reduce the number of cars and trucks on our roads, rather than encourage more of them? A generation from now, we can either have more highways and more trucks, or the beginnings of a more efficient and cost-effective transportation system.


Next Wednesday, April 27, the Bangor City Council will discuss the budget for the Community Connector bus system and the extension of bus hours later into the evening. The meeting takes place at 5:15 on the third floor of City Hall, and is open to the public.

Nevada Supreme Court Holds that Foreclosure Of HOA Lien Extinguishes Equal Priority HOA Lien.

In Nevadas master-planned communities it is common for one home to be in multiple homeowners associations. In such cases there is generally a master association for the master-planned community and then sub-associations for specific developments within the master-planned community. The liens of the master association and the sub-association have equal priority unless their declarations provide otherwise. See NRS 116.3116(8) (formerly NRS 116.3116(4)). Earlier this year in Southern Highlands Community Association v. San Florentine Avenue Trust, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 3 (Jan. 14, 2016), the Nevada Supreme Court (the Court) had the opportunity to discuss the effect of the foreclosure by one association on the other associations lien of equal priority.

In Southern Highlands, The Foothills at Southern Highlands Homeowners Association (Foothills) sold property to San Florentine at a foreclosure sale. Following the sale, Southern Highlands initiated foreclosure proceedings on the same property. San Florentine sued Southern Highlands to enjoin its foreclosure proceedings, arguing that Southern Highlands lien was extinguished by Foothills foreclosure sale and Southern Highlands remedy instead was to satisfy its lien from the foreclosure proceeds received by the sub-association. The Court agreed.

The Court initially held that NRS 116.3116(4) unambiguously provided that the associations liens are of equal priority. The Court then held that the term equal priority was ambiguous because it could mean that (1) an equal priority lien survives the foreclosure sale of another equal priority lien, or (2) an equal priority lien is extinguished but entitles the lienholder to sale proceeds when another equal priority lienholder forecloses. The Court was unable to resolve this ambiguity after examining NRS chapter 116 and its legislative history, the Uniform Land Transactions Act and the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act, upon which NRS chapter 116 is based. The Court then adopted the California rule related to foreclosing upon mechanics liens of equal priority which generally provides that equal priority mechanics lienholders are entitled to the proceeds in the same priority position as the foreclosing lienholder and their liens are extinguished. Thus, the Court held that when Foothills foreclosed on its lien, the lien of Southern Highlands was extinguished and its remedy was to seek its pro-rated share of the proceeds paid at the Foothills foreclosure sale.

There is a stark difference between mechanics lien foreclosures and HOA foreclosures even if the liens are of equal priority. Generally a mechanics lien foreclosure is a judicial foreclosure proceeding where all of the lien holders have an opportunity to appear, be heard and defend their interests. On the other hand, HOA foreclosures are generally non-judicial and other lienholders, even those with equal priority, do not have an opportunity to participate or be heard. It is also unlikely that the foreclosing HOA has either the incentive or ability to do anything to protect the interests of the holder of the other equal priority lien holder because its credit bid is limited to the amount of its lien it cannot credit bid a third-partys lien.

The better approach would have been to hold that a foreclosure of a lien does not extinguish liens of equal priority. Such is the case in Nevada with statutory liens. An example of this is seen with liens of local improvement districts. Generally those liens have are [c]oequal with the latest lien thereon so secure payment of general taxes and are [n]ot subject to extinguishment by the sale of any property on account of the payment of general taxes. NRS 271.420(3). A rule that a foreclosure of an HOAs lien does not extinguish liens of equal priority would enable the holder of the non-foreclosing lien to protect its interests. This is not, however, the law in Nevada. Perhaps the Nevada legislature can address this issue in the future.

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