Ecoforestry for forest landowners

forestry+ecology
Helia’s vision for ecoforestry is quite simple. In essence, forestry plus ecology equals something greater than the parts.

forest management planning

The Nuts and Bolts

As a forest landowner, you care about your land. You want to hire a consulting forester who will care about your forest like you do. It’s an important choice, especially when you need a forest management plan for the present-use value (PUV) program. For years to come, this plan will guide how your forest will be managed. With this in mind, Helia offers a free consultation with a North Carolina registered forester. That way you can see if Helia’s approach is right for you. Click below to contact us and set up your consultation.

Certified sustainable

Through Rainforest Alliance and the Forest Stewardship Council or through the American Tree Farm System, we offer you the ability to certify your forests as sustainable. This can offer significant benefits.

plan options

In addition to PUV forest management plans, Helia offers other planning options. For example, we can help you with the nuts and bolts of the Wildlife Conservation Land Program (WCLP), which provides similar tax reductions to the PUV program. As another option for you, we can craft Forest Stewardship Plans (FSP). FSPs comply with Stewardship Forest guidelines.  Designed to achieve long-term goals based on landowners’ objectives, FSPs are results oriented. And, yes, FSPs can be submitted to comply with the forestry PUV program.

helia's approach

Helia takes a different approach with forestry plans. This approach frees  you to meet your true goals as a forest steward. This contrasts with the typical goals of a traditional consulting forester, who sees the forest in terms of cash flow and growth. Of course, we understand income from the land may be one of your objectives. Yet Helia works in more holistic, refreshing way. As a result, we balance all your goals. Valuing your freedom and liberty, we’re here for you. With this in mind, we can unshackle you from the seeming absolute goals of a commercial forestry plan.

working with you and the land

Through experience, we understand how PUV works and we share that knowledge with landowners. We understand how to read your land with a twin focus of ecology and forestry. As a steward of the land, this is important to you. And this twin focus gives you options.

curiosity and opportunity

Each landowner has his or her own story. Each property is different. We look at your land. We listen to you. After that, we’ll talk with you about your options, based on your objectives and your land’s unique resources.

From inventory to implementation

Your Path to Forest Stewardship

values, issues, and options

Through our ecological inventories and mapping services, we can help you to know the ecological values, issues and opportunities of your land. From this, we can develop management steps for your land. Going through this process is important, as you could have rare species, important wildlife habitat, or rare natural communities on your land. And you might want to know how to manage them, appreciate them, enhance them, or use them wisely in your land tax and planning process. Or you might want to build a driveway, trail, or home in the most ecologically-sensitive manner. Or perhaps you just want to know what occurs on your land and appreciate it.

forest inventory services

We provide a full suite of forest inventory services to North Carolina landowners. First, we can provide more detailed forest inventories determining the value of a stand or your entire tract. Second, prior to a timber harvest, we can implement a prescription and mark suitable trees. With that, you will know your plan is being implemented and you will know the volume and value of a marked stand. Such valuations can be important not only for harvests, but also for any land transactions. In many cases, knowing the value of timber is an important part of a real estate transaction. Third, performing an inventory using tree cores can determine volume estimates of a tract at the date of purchase. The value of the trees on that date can be determined and used as your cost basis for any timber harvests. With Helia’s help, this can save money on your taxes.

stewards of the land and water

Stewardship options may include any number of forestry and ecology tools used in combination. As one option, prescribed burning can be beneficial for certain habitats and for oak regeneration. Another option includes canopy thinning in cove forests to increase tree diversity. Third, shelterwood cuts can maximize the value of trees and mimic the light requirements of oak seedlings. Fourth, special cuts can be designed to enhance wildlife habitat. FIfth, old growth forest, rare natural community types, riparian zones, water quality, and rare species can be protected or restored. Sixth, long rotations providing veneer quality oaks are possible. Other options are also possible. And with these options, you can generate revenues from your land. In essence, this is commercial forestry, but through the lens of ecoforestry and driven by your goals and objectives.

ecoforestry implementation

In our hub of the mountains, foothills, and Piedmont of Western North Carolina and in adjoining Southeastern United States, we’ve inventoried and provided expertise on stewardship and management on tens of thousands of acres. But our work doesn’t stop there. We can manage the entire process of implementation for you, ranging from harvest planning to ecological restoration, ensuring your plan is implemented the way you expect.

conservation

Easements and Baseline Documentation Reports

Is it right for you?

For landowners, we can work with you to see if a conservation easement is right for you and provide you with potential land trusts that can work with you to establish a conservation easement. Conservations are voluntary, private, unique, and perpetual. Ownership of land is not given up, only certain development and other rights.

initial planning

First, we can work with you to determine which areas of your land are best suited for conservation and which areas are best suited to meet your other goals. Those areas suited for conservation could be conserved with a WCLP plan or as part of the PUV forestry plan, but these aren’t perpetual, so there’s no guarantee what will happen in future generations. What best suited means varies by landowner and the unique land you own. Perhaps you’d like to include all your land. Perhaps you’d like to exclude certain areas as future home sites. We can help site these in environmentally-friendly ways.

baseline documentation

If you go forward with an easement, we can create a key piece of the puzzle, a Baseline Documentation Report (BDR). BDRs are a necessary and legal part of the conservation easement process, and establish baseline conditions of conservation values, land uses, existing structures, and the like through photographic monitoring points and a written report. This involves site visits as well as research and document preparation.

conservation values

Examples of conservation values for a BDR include rare species of plants and animals, rare natural communities, important habitats for wildlife, and declining wildlife. In addition, special designations such as Important Bird Areas of the National Audubon Society or Natural Areas as delineated by the Natural Heritage Program are conservation values. Certainly many other conservation values are also possible, but they need to be documented for your land. Helia can help you document as many as possible.

case study

Camp Mondamin

first steps

When Camp Mondamin, a 700-acre summer camp for boys in Henderson County needed a consulting forester to create a forestry plan for the PUV program, Mr. Frank Bell and his son Mr. Andrew Bell came to Helia Environmental. Helia Environmental’s Lloyd Raleigh spoke with them on numerous occasions, walking the property to show areas of interest after conducting a forest inventory of the land.

the land

Clean water flowed from their land into the important Green River watershed. Rock outcrops were potential home for green salamanders and other rare species. The forests were was mostly mature, with much of the canopy around 100 feet tall, with an abundance of oaks over a century old. As a retired wildlife official noted, most foresters would drool over such forests. And with commercial forestry as a requirement of PUV, many would force a landowner to cut their mature timber. But that wasn’t what the Bells wanted.

Planning

Helia Environmental worked with the Bells to develop a variety of plans—both wildlife and forestry—with multiple objectives. Helia also used a legal method to establish almost 200 acres in Wildlife Conservation Lands Program plans, thus protecting riparian areas and rock outcrop habitat for herp species such as green salamanders. Surrounding the block of wildlife land, Helia created a long-term harvest plan so that the majority of the tract would remain mature for years to come.  At the same time, the plan prescribed a variety of ecoforestry techniques to diversify the forest. Finally, implementing the plan provides income and high quality timber products for the local markets.
It has been our pleasure to work with Mr. Lloyd Raleigh on forestry and wildlife plans for our property, near Tuxedo, NC.  We have summer camps for kids, and about 700 acres of mostly woodland which is used for hiking, biking and camping by our young campers in the summer. We wanted to keep the property in a natural state, but also lower our taxes through special use considerations. Working with Lloyd, we came to realize that through good forestry practices we could accomplish both objectives.  Lloyd did an extensive survey of the property, presented recommendations and developed a forestry plan which is minimally invasive, and will actually improve the forest over time.  Additionally, wildlife plans preserve habitat and keep the property in a natural state for campers to see and enjoy. Lloyd was exceptionally easy to work with, and very thorough in his work.  His knowledge and expertise were immediately evident.  He understood our objectives and tailored his recommendations accordingly.  He showed us things we had never seen on our own property, even though we spend a good deal of time on it.  We have seen large reductions in property taxes as a result.  I would recommend him without hesitation, and would be happy to answer any questions anyone might have. Frank D. Bell

Camp Mondamin