COUDERSPORT — The Lyme Timber Company announced an investment in Northern Appalachian Log & Forestry Company during the Forestry Summer Series held at the NALF log yard here on Monday.
The Lyme Timber Company is a timberland investment management organization based in Hanover, N.H. Jim Hourdequin, CEO of The Lyme Timber Company, said the 43-year-old company focuses on buying land where there is a conservation outcome and an opportunity to make the business of managing land better and stronger.
Hourdequin said because of the strong business NALF has built and the worldwide customer base, The Lyme Timber Company was very interested in investing in it.
“As a timberland owner in northcentral Pennsylvania, we’re excited to be invested in well managed businesses like NALF,” Hourdequin said in a press release. According to the press release, their investment still allows NALF to maintain their control and leadership.
NALF has been here since 1987. Paul Buchsen, president of NALF, said they started out very small but have grown from just two employees to nine who have learned all the different markets they serve.
The company owns a couple thousand acres of land, Buchsen said.
“All of our land, with the exception of one very small unit, is open to the public,” Buchsen said. “That’s what we plan to continue to do.”
Logs are brought into the yard here from their own stumpage or through purchases from the Bureau of Forestry, game commission and through private lands.
Buchsen said the logs are then brought to the yard located at 301 Old Coalsburg Road, where they are sorted for the highest potential dollar value for each log.
“In other words, all our maple doesn’t go to one source … we’ve been trying to get these niche markets that pay a premium for this type of log,” Buchsen said. Maple is often used for musical instruments and baseball bats. Anything that can generate a higher value than selling it strictly to a sawmill increases the log value and the landowner benefits; they make more money off of it.
Like any business, there are challenges in the market. But Buchsen has been in this business for long enough to see the cycles it goes through.
“I’ve seen high points and low points in this business over the 50-some years I’ve been doing this and I think the markets are going to change. We’re in what you might call a ‘low point’ in the markets now, hopefully things will come back up,” Buchsen said.
As part of the forestry series given by The Lyme Timber Company, Buchsen led a tour of the log sort yard and talked about the different logs and the markets domestically and overseas.
One truckload of logs was laid out and sorted in the yard. Buchsen explained once the logs are brought in, NALF will scale each log and mark it with the length and diameter.
“Then we grade the logs to our markets,” Buchsen said. “We do not grade to a forest-service grade.” He explained each market has its own special requirement to which they adhere.
Different logs had tags based on where they were being sent to. Green tags mean they were going to China, blue tags to a domestic market. A spot meant they needed to take a deeper look at it. Each log has a barcode that when scanned will show exactly where it came from, who brought it in and who did the work on it from there.
The logs are sorted based on the grades. For example, there are 8-9 different sorts of cherry logs, from a low-end saw log to a high-end veneer log.
Buchsen said the overseas markets have changed a bit. Years ago, he said, they’d send 100s of loads to Europe, but they haven’t sent any in the past two years. They do still send a lot to China.