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When selling Iowa timber, be sure to only use a bonded timber buyer

  • 2/24/2021 10:08:00 AM
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Iowa is known as a state full of friendly people. There’s even a term for it – Iowa Nice. And while some business transactions with friendly people can take place with just a handshake, selling timber shouldn’t be among them.

“Only sell your timber to a bonded timber buyer,” said Aron Flickinger, forestry program specialist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Anyone trying to buy your trees who is not a bonded timber buyer is breaking the law.”

Iowa’s woodlands are capable of growing high quality timber that can be sold in markets around the world. Iowa’s bonded timber buyer program requires those businesses to set aside money in the form of a surety bond or certificate of deposit to help compensate a person in the event they are not paid for their timber.

Flickinger said its also important to have a written contract that outlines how the timber sale will proceed.

“The most common calls I receive come from landowners who had someone who was not a bonded timber buyer cut their trees on a verbal agreement,” he said. “Without a written contract, there is little we can do except to try to find the person and cite them for not being a bonded timber buyer. This program can’t help the landowner in this situation because of the lack of evidence on the terms of sale.”

To avoid those pitfalls, Flickinger encouraged landowners to contact the Iowa DNR foresters who are available to help them to manage their woodlands. The DNR has a list of foresters online at

“Working with a DNR forester or one from the private sector will enable landowners to make informed decisions to keep the woodlot productive, healthy, rejuvenating the right trees, while generating income from trees ready to harvest,” Flickinger said. “And the best way to find out how much the trees within your timber are worth is to solicit bids from multiple bonded timber buyers.”

To find out if a logger is a bonded timber buyer go to

“If you’re not ready to sell, enjoy the scenery those trees are providing and learn more about what you have growing on your property,” he said. “The better you understand what you have, the more likely you are to enjoy the many benefits those trees are providing to you. Whether you are managing your timber for income or wildlife habitat, consider consulting with a forester to assist you in managing your timber for your specific wants and needs.”