Group Appreciation

LRLake lrlake at
Wed Mar 11 01:14:53 EST 1998

>  Good info, but would like to know how long has this been in force in CA?
>impact has it had on mgmt of private lands?  Has high grading been curtailed?
>privates more or less apt to manage when harvesting?  How much of the mgmt
>is market driven vs land stewardship?  Any impact info helps determine
>whether this
>is a good deal or not.

There is always someone out there who has to ask the tough questions.  I'll
give them a shot:

1.  California has had a forest practices act since the early part of this
century.  The act was strengthened in the 1940's mandating that all trees over
20" dbh be retained.  This cut had a relationship to the advolorum property tax
structure.  Generally, if 70% of the volume was removed, the land was worthless
from a tax perspective.  Needless to say, during the post WWII era, the wood
was cut, whenever possible, to get it off the rolls.

2.  In the 1970's, many changes were made.  On the tax side, a yield tax was
instituted and timberland qualified for agricultural tax relief based on its
ability to grow timber (TPZ).  The professional foresters law was enacted in
1973 and the new forest practices act a year or two later.

3.  In terms of private land management, the regulations have had a mixed
result depending on the ownership.  Industrial land management has improved in
terms of regeneration and stand management but not, for all ownerships, in
terms of maintenance of optimal growing stock retention.  I think the rules are
promoting a situation where this is improving, however.  If it takes 100 yrs.
to grow a forest, it doesn't seem unreasonable that it takes 20+ years for
owners and managers to adapt to change.

For small landowners, I think the results are less favorable.  Small owners'
costs have risen significantly and their short-term interests tend to be
clouded with changes in ownership and short-term goals.  The system still tends
to protect these individual property rights as long as minimum requirements are
met.  Not total gestapo, yet, for the small guy.

4.  In my opinion, for the most part, there is a noose around high grading. 
The new silvicultural and minimum yield rules of the early '90's have made many
parcels "unharvestable" until growth catches up.

The industrial ownerships must submit plans to the State demonstrating
sustained yield for their operations.  This is complicated, but I might follow
up.  The details are at  Download the forest practice rules. 

5.  For industrial ownerships, I can say that the land management is
stewardship driven but market funded.  Commercial logging fuels the pump to
fund all of the management and rehibilitation and remediation that occurs on
industrial ownerships.  That is just the way it is.  No blow.  There
are penalties, though, from tree cops, water cops and fish cops that can force
a fix of significant problems if need be.

6.  Generally speaking, the licensing of foresters, loggers and the requirement
of timber harvest plans, prepered by a forester, combined with the rules of the
board of forestry, have significantly reduced impacts to nontimber resources
and provided the context within which growing stock is increasing instead of
being systematically depleted.  I know there are some studies, and foresters,
which would not agree, but I think it is so.

Ediorially speaking,  the regulations on forestry in california are pretty
mature.  Efforts have been in place for 80-90 years to regulate the cutting of
trees.  I am not sure we are doing any better than anyone else.  Sure spent a
long time trying.

Some additional sites you might find interesting: -- This site
has a storehouse of environmental info.  Also,; click
"publications".  There is an extensive list of reports which have relavence to
the questions in your post.

Lawrence Lake. RPF
Redding, CA

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