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E-M:/ Deforestation Does Not Pay!!!
Enviro-Mich message from Murphwild1@aol.com
The Forest Service has, for the past 50 years, had control over much of its
timber sale receipts. The agency has learned that by giving the timber
industry what it wants--cheap, subsidized federal timber--it can receive
increased appropriations for its own budget. This results from the influence
of industry lobbyists over Congressional representatives from forested states.
The agency can grow its own budgets, staffs and operations by selling more and
more of the public's timber. And it has. Rather than managing the forests for
their long-term health and full panoply of benefits--wilderness, watershed,
recreations, etc.--"getting out the cut" has become the measure of success
within the agency.
Recent trade agreements have expanded industrial forestry and global exports
worldwide, increasing pressure on U.S. National Forests, too. The agreements
have created a secure and enforceable framework of international rules from
which global corporations can enter new markets. As corporations search the
planet for new markets, they have pushed governments to eliminate trade and
investment barriers. The result is further market integration and stiffer
competition which allows only those firms that vigilantly suppress costs to
Reducing expenditures for social and ecological safeguards (such as providing
safe working conditions or complying with environmental laws) can be an easy
way to boost a firm's competitiveness. In response to heightened competition
created by these new arrangements, governments have introduced measures at the
national level designed to boost the competitiveness of domestic firms by
increasing subsidies, deregulating logging practices, and increasing access to
The result is a public lands logging program that operates at a net loss of
nearly $1 billion each year. The American people pay for timber sale
administration, logging road construction and repair as well as damage from
floods, mud slides and forest fires caused by logging. Timber companies'
contributions to these costs are minimal. From 1980 to 1991, the U.S. Forest
Service timber program operated at a net loss of $7.3 billion. In fiscal year
1996, nearly $800 million was appropriated from the general fund of the U.S.
Treasury and another $532 million was spent from off budget accounts for the
timber sale program. None of these receipts were returned to the Treasury,
resulting in a net loss to taxpayers of at least $800 million. (Hanson, Chad,
"Ending Timber Sales on National Forests, The Facts," 1997)
The replacement cost of a forest hundreds or thousands of years old is
incalculable. The considerable damage to watersheds, community water supplies,
fisheries, and to the tourism and recreation industries are not fully
considered in the Forest Service calculus. Some costs, however, can be
approximated. Logging is a primary cause of floods and mud slides, and
substantially increases the risk of forest fires. In fiscal year 1996, $485
million was appropriated for the Forest Service's wildfire fighting program
and $830 million was spent in fiscal year 1997. As for floods, the preliminary
damage estimate of the 1996 winter floods was $538 million for Oregon alone,
much of which taxpayers covered through disaster relief appropriations. In
fiscal year 1996, $60.8 million was appropriated for "emergency supplemental"
expenditures to repair roads and facilities damaged by mud slides.
"The forest Service budgeting process, which allows the Forest Service to keep
a percentage of the funds it realized from timber sales, provides an incentive
for the Forest Service to sell timber below cost or at a loss. Also, to
maximize its budget, the Forest Service uses expensive timber management and
restoration techniques, such as clearcutting. Again, conflicting interests
lead to perverse results: clearcutting provides the Forest Service with a
higher congressional subsidy because the Forest Service can request
preparation and administrative costs. Consequently, decision may be made, not
because they are in the best interests of the American people but because they
benefit the Forest Service's fiscal interest."
--Chief Judge boyce F. Martin, Jr., 6th Circuit court of Appeals, 1997
decision regarding National Forests in Ohio. (Sierra Club .v. Thomas, 105 F.
3rd 248 (6th Cir. 1997))
The following information comes from the internal bookkeeping of Michigan's
FY 97 for Ottawa
70,512.50 MBF $4,907,856.00 or $69.60/mbf
69,767.26 $3,690,155.46 or $52.89/mbf
The Fy 1997 Final budget for doing the paperwork for timber sales was
$2,305,000 for the Ottawa
The FY97 Forest Vegetation Managment cost was budgeted at $177,000 for
The FY98 Timber Road construction in the Ottawa was $276,000
$393,000 was used from the Salvage Sale funds.
$600,000 was allocated from KV funds
$109,000 came in from the reforestation trust funds.
It is my understanding that when timber is "sold" for a certain amount,
it doesn't necessarily bring in the same amount when it is "cut"
especially in the Pacific Northwest.
It is my opinion that the cost of the FY 97 timber program in the Ottawa
was $3,860,000. This figure doesn't take into account any of the
wildlife or watershed work that is actually related to timber sales but
is charged off somewhere else. It doesn't include the 25% fund which is
not actually a cost of the timber program, just a loss to the tax paper
resulting from the timber program.
It appears that the program cost more than the cut figure but less than
the sold figure. If the sold figure is inflated then it appears they
would just about break even, if one continues to assume that trees left
standing have no value. --Gwen Marshall, Murray Dailey @ NWR/Heartwood
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