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Best Free Government Forestry Publications

Forestry Publications and Handbooks Available From Government Agencies


Here are federal publications that have been helpful in my learning forestry and explaining the practice of forestry and silvics to others. These publications are well written, offer information that is nearly impossible to find and can be found for little or no cost. You will find these "gems" well worth the investment of time and effort to acquire.

You can either pick these up in hard copy on eBay, download for free or purchase from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S Government Printing Office by calling (202)512-1800, faxing (202) 512-2250 or mail Stop SSOP, Washington, D.C. 20402-0001

1. Tree Owner's Manual

United States Forest Service
It is a fact that most urban trees are planted improperly, that many do not receive regular maintenance and few are adequately protected during construction projects. To help tree owner's avoid these problems, the United States Forest Service has created this Tree Owner's Manual. As a small, black-and-white booklet, the Tree Owner's Manual is widely available to garden centers, nurseries, landscapers, and arborists to hand out to customers but you now have access to it right here.

2. Service Forester's Handbook

United States Forest Service

Service Forester's Handbook is extremely useful to foresters and forest landowners. You can obtain the book online right here or a hard copy from the USDA Forest Service, State an Private Forestry, P.O. Box 96090, Washington D.C. 20090-6090 (202) 205-1657.

The book comes as a vinyl ring-bound notebook and was published in cooperation with southern state foresters as a guide for calculating conversion factors for length, area and volume, area of circles and surveying corrections, metric equivalents, trees per acre by spacing and specific gravity by species. It also includes tree planting guides, thinning guides, stocking charts, soil and erosion data and much more.

This document is available here as a downloadable PDF file.

3. Important Forest Trees of the Eastern United States

United States Forest Service

I have seen Important Forest Trees available in USFS region headquarters and National Forest district ranger's offices for free. I also provide it free and online for you. Most State Foresters offices can get you a copy if you ask. It has a brief but complete overview of tree identification features plus species location maps.

The book contains useful color illustrations by Rebecca Merrilees from Trees of North America: A Golden Field Guide, written by C. Frank Brockman and published by Western Publishing Company, Inc. 1968.) and species location maps. Great for field trips!

4. Silvics of North America

United States Forest Service
Silvics of North America describes detailed characteristics of about 200 conifers and hardwood trees in the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Species articles were researched and written by knowledgeable Forest Service, university, and cooperating scientists. This is a major tree reference for virtually all commercially grown, native trees of North America. The project took 10 years to complete and I provide it online as a free download.

5. Woody Plant Seed Manual

USDA Forest Service
"Seed of Woody Plants in the United States" which was published back in 1974 has gone through 5 reprintings, the last in 2008. The "Woody Plant Seed Manual" explains general principles such as seed biology, harvesting, storage, testing as well as nursery practices. The manual specifically explains the extraction and storage of seeds, pregermination treatments, germination tests and nursery practices of 236 genera of native and introduced woody plants.

6. Forest Landowners' Guide to the Federal Income Tax

United States Forest Service

This is the updated and definitive work on the federal income tax as it pertains to timber. It gives an in-depth discussion on capital costs, reforestation tax incentives, depreciation, operating expenses and the passive loss rule, timber capital gain, installment sales, and much more. This book should be in the hands of the accountant that advises you on your timber investment tax obligation to the federal government. Mention to your accountant that the publication can be found online here.

This document is available here as a downloadable PDF file.

7. Estate Planning for Forest Landowners

United States Forest Service

Every forest owner or her heirs faces the inevitability of transferring property. This book can help make forest estate and gift tax planning easier to understand and I make it a available to you as a free download. The book's purpose is to provide guidelines and assistance to non-industrial private woodland owners in applying estate planning techniques to their forest properties. Estate tax, estate valuation, gift tax, forest estate and estate topics are included.

This document is available here as a downloadable PDF file.

8. Income Opportunities in Special Forest Products

United States Forest Service
I really wish there was an updated version of this publication since some of the valuable contact information has changed. In any event, Income Opportunities in Special Forest Products is still a very popular book and most of the research is still valid. This publication is available here online and instructs landowners in rural America in ways to increase income opportunities from their forest land. It goes into detail on the money making potential of aromatics, berries and fruits, cones and seeds, charcoal, mushrooms and much more...

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