Valley Wood in LaFayette transports timber to local businesses to be turned into paper, furniture and hardwood floors. The business has three Georgia lumber yards: LaFayette, Coosa and Dallas.
"Trees are our No. 1 oldest renewable resource," said registered state of Georgia forester Mark Shaw, who grew up in Chickamauga but now lives in Kensington, where he is personally growing 250 acres of a variety of trees to be harvested, along with hay, cattle and pigs. His daughter and two nephews are the eighth generation of the Shaw family working on the Coulter-Shaw Farm.
"A top reason people sought out America was because of renewable resources," said Shaw. "Trees play an important role in history. The British used pine for the masts on their ships, as did the United States. The USS Constitution was made out of Georgia live oak. Native Americans also used trees to build canoes and their houses."
Valley Wood continues the tradition of valuing wood by purchasing timber from people, cutting it and hauling it by the tractor trailer load to mills around the region, he said. Valley Wood also peels wood to create fence posts and cuts firewood to sell.
Shaw said Valley Wood is basically a dealer of wood. Seven foresters/timber buyers travel around within an hour's distance of the LaFayette site to offer estimates on how much the company will pay someone to harvest their timber.
"We do some management plans for people in the tree farming business," said Shaw. "Timber is a crop and a renewable resource."
He said Valley Wood typically takes on jobs that are 5-acre tracts or more to cut, but will contract out smaller tracts of land.
"If you have trees in your backyard that you want to get rid of, we take care of it," he said.
He said trees can be harvested at age 15 up to age 100. It takes 25 to 30 years for a pine tree to mature. Hardwood is slower-growing, more of a 50- or 75-year cycle. He said Valley Wood will harvest all trees such as pine, hardwood and cedar.
"People get upset when they see trees being cut, but trees are renewable and cutting trees can be beneficial to wildlife," said Shaw. "As an area, we grow more timber than we cut. In a mature forest there's not much food for the animals. It would just be acorns and hickory nuts. A tree needs to be cut or to fall to allow sunlight into the forest to let new trees grow."
He said the Northwest Georgia area has 60 percent hardwood forests and 40 percent pine tree forests.
"Right now hardwood is more valuable than pine," said Shaw. "Historically, pine was more valuable. More people are remodeling their homes now instead of building new homes because of the slowdown in the economy. Remodeling keeps the hardwood market stronger right now."
Pine timber is used to build new houses and to create decks. Hardwood timber is used to build cabinets, flooring, furniture and palettes. Cedar timber is used to create flake shavings for dog beds or for boards used in closets. Notepad paper, baby diaper pulp, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, copy paper and wrapping paper also come from trees, he said.
Valley Wood is open to planting trees in areas that request it too, said Shaw. For example, the company recently planted 13,000 pine trees on 20 acres on Cherokee Valley Road in Ringgold, which was devastated by the April 27, 2011 tornado.
"Natural disasters definitely generate a lot of work for us," said Shaw. "In Ringgold, Cleveland and Apison, we harvested a lot of wood in 2011. We are still cutting from the tornado devastation in McDonald, Tenn. Some of the trees downed by the tornado are still salvageable. We had straight-line winds in south Walker County a few weeks ago that also knocked down trees."