Influences of varying stand harvest methods on timber harvesting costs in southwestern Virginia hardwoods
Bell, Robert D.
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A method was developed for estimating costs of harvesting operations in the hardwood stands of the Appalachian region of southwestern Virginia. The method was then tested on one logging operation to estimate the cost of harvesting a group selection tract as compared to a clearcut. Eight loggers were contacted and interviewed to obtain data on their costs of logging. The mean, median, and standard deviation of the responses were calculated to develop a profile. Mean crew size was three men, including the owner operator. Mechanized equipment consisted of a cable skidder from 75 to 120 hp. and a small to medium size loader. Average skidder age was 4.8 years. Loggers produced 144 cords per week, of which 54.6% was pulpwood and 42.4% sawtimber with 3% firewood. Products were hauled an average of 33 miles one way. Labor costs, including wages and all benefits averaged $411 per man per week. Total harvesting costs had a mean of $2252 per week. Mean hauling cost was $1289 per week. Annual production averaged 6778 cords. Cords per man hour was 0.99. Total cost per cord including hauling averaged $26. The information taken from the interviews was incorporated along with data from current literature into the Harvesting Analysis Technique (HAT), a main frame harvesting simulator, to model group selection harvests against clearcut harvests. A twenty-seven acre group selection cut was compared to a 160-acre clearcut. Clearcut area was based on the access estimated possible by the group selection skid road network. Results showed group selection harvested at a 21% slower rate than clearcutting. Harvest cost per cord was 25.8% greater. Variation in cost was caused mainly by the increased average skid distances present in the groups. Every 100 foot increase in skid distance resulted in a $0.68 increase in cost per cord for skidding in group selection harvests compared to a $0.33 increase for clearcutting.
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