• When you have questions, Ask a Forester!  

    Our "Ask a Forester" series answers questions about forest health, timber harvesting and land management to ensure that forested lands in Texas are as healthy and productive as possible.

    Jason Ellis, our Jacksonville District Forester, leads the series and shares his forestry knowledge to help established, new and prospective landowners and curious learners find answers to commonly-asked forestry questions.

    "Ask a Forester" is both a video series on our social media channels and a regular newspaper column in publications throughout East Texas. 


    Watch our latest video, "What is a shelterwood harvest?"


    "Ask a Forester" columns appear in:

    • Cherokeean Herald
    • Houston County Courier
    • Marshall News Messenger
    • New Waverly Community News and Events
    • Panola Watchman
    • Polk County Enterprise
    • Polk County Today


    About Jason
    Jason Ellis is a District Forester for the Texas A&M Forest Service in Jacksonville, Texas. His district assists forest landowners with implementation of forest management practices on their properties including reforestation, timber harvesting and thinning, wildlife habitat management, and forest management plan formation. In addition to serving forest landowners, Jason manages the forestry operations on the I.D. Fairchild State Forest near Rusk, Texas. He lives with his wife, Tiffany, and their daughter, Jesse, in Arp, Texas.

    New Topics

    If you'd like to suggest questions for upcoming "Ask a Forester" installments or if you'd like to see "Ask a Forester" columns in your local newspaper, email communications@tfs.tamu.edu


    Use #AskaForester on social media!


    Our growing list of topics include:  

     + What is a blowdown?

    For many landowners, land and timber represent their livelihood. When damaging storms or hurricanes reach timber stands, trees can be knocked down, blown over, snapped at the tops and generally devastated. This event is called blowdown, also known as a wind snap. Disaster sometimes strikes landowners on a large scale, like in 2005 when Hurricane Rita decimated pine and hardwood timber across East Texas and beyond. Much of the damaged land was owned by private, nonindustrial landowners who relied on their timber for income and other nest eggs, like retirement or college funds. Needless to say, such losses can be devastating and very personal. If a blowdown happens on your land, it’s important to take immediate action to salvage your timber for sale. To learn how to salvage your timber after a blowdown or ask any other forestry-related questions, contact your local Texas A&M Forest Service District Office.

    Click here to watch the video.

     + What is a shelterwood harvest?

    Whenever landowners harvest timber, they have different options when it comes to regenerating a stand. Landowners can choose between natural and artificial regeneration. Both have their own pros and cons, and landowners should make their choice based on their property goals. Artificial regeneration means that a stand is prepared for planting via mechanical and/or chemical means followed by hand or machine planting. This is typically done after a timber harvest or clearcut. With this method, landowners can decide how many pine seedlings to plant on a tract, which are typically set out in neat rows. 

    The other option is natural regeneration, or shelterwood harvest. When landowners choose to do a shelterwood harvest, mature pine trees with good form and healthy crowns are left evenly spaced throughout the tract. These trees drop pine cones loaded with seed, and new seedlings sprout naturally. This method offers a more aesthetically-pleasing appearance and a more suitable wildlife habitat, which can be beneficial to those who enjoy hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on their property. However, since the shelterwood harvest takes longer to regenerate a stand, landowners who are managing their forest timberland solely for timber income will likely want to choose artificial regeneration, hand planting or machine planting, since this is the most profitable method. If you’d like to learn more about regenerating pine on your property or if you have any other forestry-related questions, please contact your local Texas A&M Forest Service District Office. 

    Click here to watch the video.