Timber sale procedures on NFS lands in the US?
Robert G Weinberger
rweinber at orednet.org
Sat Jan 31 00:03:28 EST 1998
In a previous article, larryst at vis.bc.ca (Larry Stamm) asks:
>1) What is the typical time frame of a timber sale in the US National
>2) What are typical volumes sold in a single sale?
>3) Are these sales truly sold on a competitive and open basis? Auction or
>4) What road building and maintenance requirements, if any, fall upon the
>winning bidder of a sale?
>5) How are stumpage charges assessed across the various species and grades
>harvested from a sale?
>6) What silvicultural requirements fall upon the winning bidder?
>7) Who does the pre-harvest planning and cruising?
>8) Are there any restrictions on what can be done with the harvested timber?
The USFS uses several ways to sell timber. My responses to your questions
won't cover all situations, but will apply to 90-95% of the cases in the
NW US at the current time.
1)6mos. - 3yrs. with the majority being 1-2yrs.
2) Anywhere from 10mbf to 15mmbf, with the majority of the "large" sales
being 1-8mmbf and most of the many "small" sales being in the 100-300mbf
range. 5-10 years ago sales of 10-20mmbf with terms of 3-5yrs were fairly
common, but are extremely rare now.
3) Virtually all sales over 100mbf (and most under that amount) are sold
in truly open and competitive manner. Either open auctions or sealed bids
may be used. A few years ago, open auctions were the most common method but
lately most seem to be going the sealed bid route.
4) Most roads built exclusively to harvest the sale and all maintenance
associated with the sale are the responsibility of the purchaser - either
through his own work or through payment to the USFS for the work. However,
roads that serve other purposes (e.g. recreation or future access to other
areas), and/or that the USFS requires to be built to standards that exceed
those the purchaser needs to harvest the sale, MAY be built with
appropriated funds or the purchaser MAY receive "purchaser credits" in an
amount equal to the USFS estimate for doing the work. These "purchaser
credits" may be used to make stumpage payments on any future timber sales
that the purchaser acquires(usually only on the same National Forest). The
amount of purchaser credits rarely covers the full road building cost and
is invariably a lower cost to the government than they would pay to
contract the roads themselves. The road building requirements and whether
or not there will be purchaser credits and their amount are known to all
bidders prior to the sale and the amount of the bids will reflect that
information. Rather like the difference one might be willing to pay for a
furnished vs. an unfurnished apt.
5) Although minor species in a sale might be sold at a fixed rate, each
species in a sale is bid separately, with the sale being awarded to the
bidder who bids the highest total amount based on the USFS cruise of the
sale. Sales may be sold lump sum, in which the bidder pays for the full
volume of the designated timber from the USFS cruise, regardless of
whether or not the sale "cuts out". In other words he takes all risk of
any underrun, but reaps the benefit of any overrun. Other sale are sold on
a scale basis in which the USFS scales all volume removed (or a statistically
valid random sample thereof) and the purchaser pays only for what is
actually removed. There is however a penalty payment imposed for failure
to remove any designated timber, to prevent the purchaser from skimming
the cream of the timber.
6) Other than slash disposal and sometimes some site prep, the
silvicultural activities following the harvest are handled by the USFS.
However, the purchaser must pay set amounts (called K-V funds), over and
above the bid amounts to cover the future planting & etc. costs.
Additionally, many sales require the performance of non-harvest related
activities such as building livestock control fences or constructing
hiking trails as a condition of the contract.
7) Most pre-harvest planning and cruising of the sale is done by the USFS,
but items such as road engineering, skid trail layout, skyline corridor
profiling & layout, etc. are very often the purchaser's responsibility.
Again the responsibility for these items is known prior to bidding so
reflects in the amount prospective purchasers are willing to bid.
8) All USFS timber must be milled domestically, and ayone who exports
timber from any source in the broad geographic area that the National
Forest is located in is barred from bidding on sales in that area.
Bob Weinberger - La Grande, OR
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