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 ECOST – a computer program developed by scientists at the Northern Research Station for estimating stump-to-mill costs of cable logging, conventional ground-based skidding, cut-to-length, feller-buncher systems, forwarding, and several small farm tractors for logging a wide range of Eastern hardwoods is now available for downloading at: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/tools/software/

The program can be used to accomplish a wide range of objectives. For example, a wood procurement buyer may want to estimate the stump-to-mill cost of moving wood from one location to another to arrive at what a fair purchase price might be. The individual would need to obtain a little bit of information for the tracts he/she wishes to evaluate, download ECOST, input some data, run ECOST, and one would have cost estimates for logging these tracts with different machines and hauling the

wood on alternate truck and road types. The user has the option to evaluate felling the trees with conventional chainsaws, feller bunchers, or with cut-to-length harvesters. The user can evaluate extracting the wood with a small winch, several small farm tractors, various size skidders, various cable systems, or a forwarder. Individual landowners may wish to use the program to estimate the costs involved in harvesting and transporting their wood resources to alternately located markets so that they can develop stumpage offers that will maximize their returns (LeDoux 1987, LeDoux et al. 1996, LeDoux and Huyler 1999). National Forests, state agencies, and commercial timber companies can use the program to gain insight into the costs involved in harvesting wood with alternate harvesting systems and transporting such to various outlets to arrive at individual supply and demand assessments (Worthington et al. 1996, LeDoux et al. 2001). The program can be used to help planners and investors conduct sawmill, pulp mill, wood yard, sort yard, or biomass energy plant site location analysis by evaluating the costs involved in harvesting and transporting wood products on alternate transportation networks and vehicles. Equipment buyers/sellers can use the program to arrive at cost estimates that match their choice of harvesting machines to on-the-ground site resources and terrain, production quotas, environmental compliance, and safety (Huyler and LeDoux 1990, LeDoux and Huyler 2000, LeDoux and Huyler 2001). Individual Internal Revenue auditors have used the program to confirm/match cost deduction/depreciation/expenses claimed on tax returns by individual logging contractors. The program can be integrated with growth and yield software to optimize rotation length (Roise 1988) and thinning entry timing (LeDoux 2007), to rank silvicultural treatments (Baumgras et al. 1995), to compute breakeven points for logging machine selection (LeDoux 2000), to optimize size of group selection openings (LeDoux 1999), to determine optimal time to release crop trees (LeDoux and Miller 2008), estimate opportunity costs of creating old growth conditions (LeDoux 2004), estimating opportunity costs of structural retention (LeDoux and Whitman 2006), and calculating the capital recovery costs of alternate stream side buffer zone protection scenarios (LeDoux 2006, LeDoux and Wilkerson 2006). The program can also be used to define wood markets (May and LeDoux 1992, Prestemon et al. 2000), for multiproduct assessments (May et al. 1994), and to conduct logging system feasibility assessments (LeDoux 1985, LeDoux et al. 1995, LeDoux 2002). The program has multiple uses anywhere logging cost and transport information is required.

The program is super user friendly and requires only a handful of input variables that can usuallybe gleaned from timber sale maps, site inventory or cruise information. The list of input variables required includes: DBH (average diameter of the wood to be cut), SYD (average slope yarding distance that logs/trees need to be transported from the stump to the landing), VOAC (average volume per acre to be extracted), DELAY (is a measure of the amount of down time/delay costs), MOVE (a measure of the cost involved to move equipment from one jobsite to another/costs of moving in and out), MILEAGE (one way haul distance to the sawmill, pulp mill, wood yard, sort yard, or wood processing facility), VPL (average volume per log to be extracted), VPT (average volume per turn/hitch), LPT (average number of logs per turn/hitch). The truck types and road types that wood must be transported on may be selected after executing the ECOST program. The program should be valuable to loggers, decision makers, policy formulators, landowners, wood procurement folks, equipment dealers, researchers, faculty could use the program as a teaching tool for students to learn what impact machines and select site variables have on logging costs, and essentially anyone that is in need of estimating harvesting costs for whatever purpose for Eastern hardwoods. Although the program is designed for use for Eastern hardwoods primarily, it has been modified and used all over the world.

A user’s guide is also included in the download. If you have questions about the program – contact Toni Jones – 304-285-1580 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Literature Cited

Baumgras, J.E., G.W. Miller, and C.B. LeDoux. 1995. Economics of hardwood silviculture using skyline and conventional logging. P. 5-17 in 23rd Annual Hardwood Symposium, Cashiers, NC.

Huyler, N.K. and C.B. LeDoux. 1990. A comparison of small tractors for thinning central hardwoods. P. 92-104 in Proc. of 8th Central Hardwood Forest Conference, McCormick, Larry W.; Gottschalk, Kurt W. (eds.). Radnor, PA, USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-148.

LeDoux, C.B. 1985. When is hardwood cable logging economical? J. of For. 83(5): 295-298.

LeDoux, C.B. 1987. ECOST - A stump-to-mill timber production cost-estimating program for cable logging Eastern hardwoods. The Compiler. 5(4):33-34.

LeDoux, C.B. 1999. An integrated approach for determining the size of hardwood group-selection openings. For. Prod. J. 49(3): 34-37.

LeDoux, C.B. 2000. Matching skidder size to wood harvested to increase hardwood fiber availability: a case study. For. Prod. J. 50(10): 86-90.

LeDoux, C. 2002. Assessing the feasibility and profitability of cut-to-length harvests in eastern hardwoods. In Eastern CANUSA Forest Science Conference; Orono, ME: 53.

LeDoux, C.B. 2004. Estimating the capital recovery costs of managing for old growth forests. The 6th Eastern Old Growth Forest Conference. Moving Toward Sustainable Forestry: Lessons from Old Growth Forests. Moultonborough, NH. University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Natural Resource Network Report: 31.

LeDoux, C.B. 2006. Assessing the opportunity cost of implementing streamside management zone guidelines in Eastern hardwood forests. For. Prod. J. 56(6): 40-44.

LeDoux, C.B. 2007. Impact of alternative harvesting technologies on thinning entry and optimal rotation age for eastern hardwoods. P. 122-128 in Proc. of 15th Central Hardwood Forest Conference, Buckley, David S.; Clatterbuck, Wayne K. (eds.). Knoxville, TN. USDA For. Serv. e-Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-101.

LeDoux, C.B. and A. Whitman. 2006. Estimating the capital recovery costs of alternative patch retention treatments in Eastern hardwoods. Intl. J. of For. Eng. 17(1): 21-30.

LeDoux, C.B. and E. Wilkerson. 2006. A case study assessing opportunity costs and ecological benefits of alternative streamside management zones and logging systems for Eastern hardwood forests. USDA For. Serv. Res. Pap. NRS-1. 16 p.

LeDoux, C.B. and G.W. Miller. 2008. Exploring the optimal economic timing for crop tree release treatments in hardwoods: results from simulation. P. 265-274 in 16th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; Lafayette, IN. USDA For. Serv. e-Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-24.

LeDoux, C. B. and N.K. Huyler. 1999. Light impact logging technology for achieving future desired conditions. In 1999 National Silviculture Workshop, Kalispell, MT.

LeDoux, C.B. and N.K. Huyler. 2000. Cost comparisons for three harvesting systems operating in Northern hardwoods. USDA For. Serv. Res. Pap. NE-715. 4 p.

LeDoux, C.B and N.K. Huyler. 2001. Comparison of two cut-to-length harvesting systems operating in Eastern hardwoods. J. of For. Eng. 12(1): 53-59.

LeDoux, C.B., B. Gopalakrishnan, and S. Mudiyanur. 1996. Maximizing financial yields while meeting landowner objectives and ecosystem goals. P. 220-225 in Joint Meeting of the Council on ForestEngineering and International Union of Forest Research Organizations: Planning and Implementing Forest Operations to Achieve Sustainable Forests. St. Paul, MN, USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-186.

LeDoux, C.B., D.M. May, T. Johnson, and R.H. Widmann. 1995. Assessing the feasibility and profitability of cable logging in southern upland hardwood forests. So. J. of Applied For. 19(3): 97-102.

LeDoux, C.B., P.E. Sendak, W.H. McWilliams, N.K. Huyler, T. Malecek, W. Muzzey, and T. Jones. 2001. Timber supply and demand assessment of the Green and White Mountain National Forests’ market area. USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-280. 19 p.

May, D.M. and C.B. LeDoux. 1992. Assessing timber availability in upland hardwood forests. So. J. of Applied For. 16(2): 82-88.

May, D.M., C.B. LeDoux, J.B. Tansey, and R. Widmann. 1994. Impact of in-woods product merchandizing on profitable logging opportunities in southern upland hardwood forests. USDA For. Serv. Res. Pap. SO-282. 11 p.

Prestemon, J.P., J.M. Pye, K.L. Abt, D.N. Wear, and C.B. LeDoux. 2000. Market definition for hardwood timber in the Southern Appalachians. P. 91-98 in Proc. of 1999 Southern Forest Economics Workshop, Munn I. A., Bullard, S. H., Grado, S.C., and Grebner, D.L. (eds.) Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS.

Roise, J.P., J. Chung, and C.B. LeDoux. 1988. Optimal stocking of species by diameter class for evenaged mid-to-late rotation Appalachian hardwoods. P. 166-172 in 1988 Symposium on Systems Analysis in Forest Resources. Fort Collins, CO. USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-161.

Worthington, V.E., C.B. LeDoux, W.H. McWilliams, H. Sloan, and T. Jones. 1996. Methodology for assessing current timber supplies and product demands. USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-226. 25 p.

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