PRIVATE VS PUBLIC FOREST MANAGEMENT COSTS
All the recent controversy about US Forest Service costs being greatly in
excess of returns got me thinking. Costs are over 150% of US Treasury returns
(before county payments). See http://www.teleport.com/~rot/sa22.html. (This
is on the website of the Oregon-based Thoreau Institute.)
So I decided to take a look at my records to find out how I compare with the
USFS in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. <G> I keep pretty good
records, so this wasn't a difficult task.
It turns out my costs to my landowner-clients are in the range of 15-25% of
gross returns (before town tax payments). The low end is for high value and/or
previously well-managed forests; the high end is for low value and/or
previously poorly managed forests.
Total costs include boundary blazing and painting; inventory, appraisal and
management planning; timber/pulp/wood marking and sales administration. I do
very little TSI because most stands around here can be commercially thinned. I
do virtually no planting because good regeneration results from well-planned
So it seems that I'm about 7.5 times as efficient and cost-effective as the
USFS. I knew I was good, but had no idea I was that good! <G>
Now I'm curious about the ranges of costs for consultants in other parts of the
country. I would expect that higher timber values in the Southeast and
Northwest would translate to even lower percentage costs for consultants.
I'd also like to know what the cost percentages are for state forests. There
are data for all states at http://www.teleport.com/~rot/sfordata.html. But the
data are all mixed up with different states reporting different data.
Here in Massachusetts the cost percentage appears to be about the same as the
USFS--about 150%. How do the more efficient states manage to keep costs down?
Why do you think there is such a big discrepancy between management costs on
private and public forest lands?