Kelly & Son Forestry and Logging LLC was featured by The Journal-Standard.

Local logger helps area farmers manage timberland

By Jane Lethlean The Journal-Standard

The thoughts of logging bring to mind the Pacific Northwest, where logging is big business. But to David Kelly of Freeport, logging is important right here in northwest Illinois, where he helps farmers manage their timber and get top dollar for the trees on their property.

“There are loggers and farmers out there that see dollar signs when it comes to cutting trees,” Kelly said. “I like to talk to the people I deal with and help advise them on the proper time to cut trees.”

Kelly is quick to point out that when he approaches a buyer for logs to lumber, he tries to get top dollar for the trees. He says that while logging is a business to him, he also “tries to go the extra mile to insure that some trees are not harvested at the wrong time” and he tries to make sure that timber is not razed just for the sole purpose of “making a quick buck.”

“Each owner that I deal with in this business is different,” Kelly said. “On my current job, the owner hired me to manage his timber. The first thing I do when I meet with a farmer is to determine the motivation the seller has for cutting the trees.”

“I also try to look out for each owner’s best interest,” Kelly added. “I am hired to do a job, but I like to talk with them about trying to save as many trees as I can to insure that each tree reaches maturity.”

Kelly said he likes to walk the timber with a prospective seller to make sure that he and the owner are “on the same page.” Cutting trees is a controversial topic and Kelly knows this, which is why he tries to take the extra steps needed to make sure that conservation measures are also taken before “a tree harvest begins.”

Kelly has been in the logging business since 1997, when he bought his first saw mill. He moved to the area after he bought land with 40 acres of trees. He began cutting trees to build his own log house, which took 30 trees.

During his years both as a logger and sawmill operator he said he had litter time for his family.

“I used to cut the trees, saw the wood and still find a buyer for the lumber,” Kelly said. “It was constant work, so I sold my saw mill, kiln and now I’m just in the business of logging.”

Kelly said the economy is good right now, with buyers as far away as China looking to buy lumber. Many of the jobs he does have the lumber sold anywhere in the United States.

He said that walnut and cherry wood are the most preferred logs, but soft maples, red oaks, and other wood prevalent in this area are also popular. Kelly also said that this area has a lot of hard woods.

Kelly has a crew that he works with that helps him do the logging. Doug Clark is the man that Kelly most calls on to do the tree cutting.

“Once the tree is marked for cutting, it becomes my job to take all safety measures to cut the tree and to make sure that the tree lands where I want it to, thus not damaging any other tree in the fall path,” Clark said.

Once Clark has cut the tree down he tops off the tree, hooks it to a wench attached to a log skidder, which is then pulled out of the timber by Ceasar Ruiz. Ruiz then lines up the individual trees in a line in a field.

Kelly said that Clark does a good job at cleaning up the log, making it look the best it can for a buyer.

According to Kelly, logging is a good way to make a living, but says he likes to think that he is also helping farmers manage their timber ground saying “logging helps farmers manage and improve the overall timber ground.”

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