Tom Anundson, Dave O'Barto, and Pat Hulle, Consulting Foresters
1. What happens to my trees when the construction starts?
You have been paid for the trees and received a fair market value for them. MOST of the construction companies do not want the trees and pile them along the construction limits, but some of them take them. Once construction has been completed, if they have been left the trees are yours to do with whatever you want. Sometimes, we are able to sell those trees again to a timber buyer, and you will get paid again for them. And, sometimes they are damaged in the removal process and should be cut up for firewood.
2. I don't want the gas company to put a well or gas line on my land. Can I stop them?
Usually, no. If they control the mineral rights they have a legal right to access the gas, oil, and minerals underground. As the landowner, you control the surface rights, but they have to be allowed reasonable access across your land.
3. I am confused about how to negotiate the best price for my lease. What should I do?
First, contact an attorney who specializes in lease negotiations. His fee is well worth the protection he will provide. If you need a referral, contact us and we can help you with one in your area.
4. Who will determine if there are trees on my land that will be removed during development that I should be paid for?
The gas developer's engineer will provide a site plan that lays out the locations of roads, gas lines, well pads, etc. It should specify "Limits of Disturbance," which are the boundaries of the actual operations. We use the site plans to find the trees within the limits, and measure, grade, and value each tree. That appraisal can be used to negotiate the total lease payment you receive.
5. I was offered a payment per acre, or per foot, for compensation. Does that cover the tree value too?
Maybe. By offering a standard payment it speeds up the process and helps close deals. Most of the gas companies offer a fair payment, but what if you have above average timber, containing veneer and top grade logs? It is best to get a second opinion.
6. Will you be involved in the layout of the well pads and gas lines?
No, not usually. Gas development is a precise science, and often requires line and pad locations be placed where it is geographically desirable. Sometimes it appears that a location should be changed, but most often it is not practical.
7. It seems like they are tearing up my land! What now?
Gas development, like logging, is unsightly while it is going on. However, they are strictly regulated activities designed to minimize the environmental impact of the project. Once finished, gas lines are seeded and mulched and in a year they turn green and heal nicely. Gas well locations (pads) are clean, neat looking facilities that are also seeded and mulched to green them up around the equipment.