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E-M:/ Allegheny NF does NOT make money!



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Enviro-Mich message from DavidOrr@aol.com
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Murray,

Thanks for your comments.  In general, I am in agreement with all you've 
said but I want to caution that talking about the Forest Service's budget 
is tricky.  The USFS chooses to "cook its books" by hiding significant 
timber program-related costs and promoting the notion that individual 
forests are (potentially) valuable revenue streams that, if they could 
only be freed from the yoke of oppressive regulation and the never-ending 
flood of 32-cent appeals from obnoxious environmentalists like me...

I would like to point out that the Allegheny National Forest did not 
"make money," (nor, indeed, did ANY national forest) even though it did 
bring in a higher ratio of receipts-to-costs than most other forests in 
the system.  Since the Forest SErvice is an arm of the government and not 
a for-profit enterprise, it is incorrect to say that any forest, or even 
the entire national forest system, could ever make money.  However, it 
CAN and SHOULD be said that the entire system LOSES lots every 
year--money, habitat, water quality, respect... 

We can evaluate whether the Forest Service brings in more money than it 
pays out (not the same as "making money," but close enough for government 
work as they say).  The only way to do this accurately is to look at the 
total amount of money RETURNED TO THE TREASURY annually by the Forest 
Service.  This is one chunk of money in one account.  It is not broken 
down forest-by-forest, and it cannot be if we are to accurately assess 
the true costs (and benefits, such as they are) of the logging program.

Why is this?  Well take, for example, the numerous program costs which 
are NOT handled at the forest level.  Fire-fighting is one example where 
the individual forests do not pay yet considerable value accrues to the 
individual forests' logging operations over time (this is because most 
fire-fighting costs reflect efforts to protect value of growing stock, 
which is a timber program-related objective).  Another example is the 
costs incurred at the levels of the regional foresters and the Washington 
Office, which are not distributed or pro-rated back to the forest level 
under the USFS' own accounting systems.  There are significant regional 
and national-level timber program-related administrative costs which are 
difficult if not impossible to accurately assign to individual forests.

The ENTIRE national forest timber program loses massive amounts of money. 
 Over $1 billion lost NATIONALLY in 1997 alone, according to a 
Congressional Research Service-verified study sponsored by Sierra Club 
and John Muir Project (see www.johnmuirproject.org).

Receipt-based accounting of Forest Service agency performance on a 
forest-by-forest basis is like evaluating the performance of a national 
bank by looking at individual branches.

The ONLY reason why Allegheny NF receipts are high has nothing to do with 
USFS *management* but rather is directly related to the EXPORT of rare 
black cherry from the forest (the only significant source of 
commercially-available black cherry wood in the world).  

Otherwise, I am

David Orr
<davidorr@aol.com>


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