​Timber Management

Currently, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands manages slightly less than 78,000 acres of School Trust Lands, mostly located in a nine-county area the northern third of the state.  

To view a map of school trust land total acreage by county, click h​ere.

Balanced intentions

Because the BCPL holds its lands and other assets in trust for its beneficiaries, it has a fiduciary duty to prudently manage, protect and enhance the value of its trust lands. To meet these obligations, our staff engage in a range of forest land management activities that include sustainable forestry, and land transactions to enhance public access, timber revenue potential and public access.

In our dual role as generators of income for today’s and future Trust beneficiaries, we are committed to a long-term strategy of sustainable forestry 

Timber sales

Timber production and other activities are scheduled as part of 15-year plans. Timber harvests are used as a tool to: 1)  maintain existing forest types, 2) encourage conversion to a forest type more adapted to existing site conditions; 3) Enhance the timber value of residual trees for future harvests.  Timber is offered via a sealed bid process. BCPL continues to meet it annual harvest goals, which is approximately 80% of its annual timber growth.

Forest regeneration

Consistent with our commitment to sustainable forestry, agency staff and contract crews routinely plant trees when natural regeneration is lacking. For example, BCPL planted more than 76,000 trees in the 2009-11 biennium and 52,650 in the 2011-2013 biennium. 

Forest Inventory

BCPL conducts forest inventory on about 8-10% of its ownership annually documenting over 25 features—such as tree species composition, growth, timber volumes, tree regeneration, and herbaceous ground-layer plants. The data collected through the inventory program is vital in developing comprehensive management plans for our entire land base and necessary for appraising timber values for land transactions. 

Comprehensive management plans

The management of nearly all of the BCPL’s lands is guided by comprehensive 15-year management plans. These plans contain detailed information about timber management including harvest, monitoring and planting schedules as well as information about water features, wetlands, rare species and past management practices. Our Northern Office staff has also analyzed the historical records of over 1,000 timber sales going back to the onset of logging on Trust Lands in 1943. We entered into the electronic inventory the species and volumes harvested, legal descriptions where logging occurred, the logging company, and the season of logging. We now can access details about timber harvests on any BCPL-owned parcel at the touch of a button. This information will be used to prescribe management practices that match the land’s capability. Information about tree species that once were common and are now rare or gone also will be used to inform tree planting and restoration decisions.

Forest Certification

Landowners and companies that sell timber or forest products seek certification as a way to verify to consumers that they have practiced forestry in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable manner. A growing number of timber producers and purchasers as well, large and small businesses, and consumers look for forest certification when purchasing wood or paper products. BCPL has received Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®C120950) Forest Management certification in 2015 and has passed all annual audits since that time.  BCPL’s forest management now adheres to the FSC® principles and guidelines on approximately 88% of its lands. Non-certified lands are remote and very isolated from certified lands. Those tracts are physically separated from certified lands so that there is no chance of mixing certified and non-certified timber products under a contract. ​