When I talk with landowners about hiring a forester or logger to work on their property, I always tell them to ask for references. The response I usually get is, “what questions should I ask them?” I recently came across a nice compilation of questions at the Minnesota Logger Education Program website that I thought I would share.
I have broken the questions into some broad categories, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to ask them in any specific order. You are welcome to use the questions that are appropriate for your situation, and modify them as you see fit.
Communication – your goals and concerns need to be clearly expressed to your logger so that you are both on the same page as to what is to be done and how. Conditions can change during a timber harvesting operation and good loggers will work with you to adapt in ways that still meets your goals.
Did the logger communicate well with you? Did the logger explain, for example, any necessary changes in the operation? Was he or she flexible in responding to your needs? How were the logger's relations with foresters and neighboring landowners?
Was the logger willing to listen to your concerns and answer your questions directly?
Performance – these questions get at how well the logger met the prescriptions in the contract you both signed.
Did the logger fulfill verbal and written obligations for such things as road restoration, fence repair, and cleaning up trash?
Did the logger get the job done efficiently and within the specified time limit? If not, why not? (Be aware that bad weather can cause unavoidable delays.)
Impacts on the land – every timber harvesting operation will have some impact on the trees that are left standing and your roads. The best loggers want you to be happy with the job they did and will treat your land in a respectful manner.
Was the logger careful to avoid damaging other trees and land improvements (gates, fences, culverts, etc.)? If there was damage, did he/she make appropriate repairs?
Did the timber harvester seem concerned about environmental matters, such as wildlife habitat, water quality, and visual concerns?
Did he or she stop or modify operations appropriately during wet weather?
In what shape did the logger leave your skid trails, haul roads, and landings?
Did the logger take pride in his/her workers and equipment? How about in previous jobs? Was the logger willing to show you any of these?
And one final question: Would you use the logger for future timber harvests? Why or why not?