Clinton and the USFS

Don Baccus dhogaza at
Thu May 28 19:34:37 EST 1998

In article <356C7C6E.226B at>,
Don Staples  <dstaples at> wrote:

>"As a frame of reference, the Siuslaw National Forest is composed of
>630,000 acres of the most
>productive timber growing land in the world.  Every year it grows more
>than 600 million board feet of
>soft-wood timber.  Prior to the president's plan, 365,000 acres of the
>forest was available for producing a
>sustainable flow of timber.

>"The sustainable timber harvest level was approximately 336 million
>board feet per year, or roughly
>half the annual growth.  During this period the forest's timber sale
>program was hugely profitable,
>returning revenues to the federal Treasury several times larger than the
>investment made in selling the
>timber, with enough left over to finance most of the forest's other
>resource programs..

The premise here is that our National Forests exist to grow timber.
The premise is that these old-growth timberlands should be logged
and converted to managed stands.  Which mostly has happened, of
course.  Note how Jimmy boy cleverly points out that only half
of the annual growth of timber was being harvested - but that
most of that growth is occuring in young stands, not stands mature
enough to be harvested.  How would the Forest maintain this output
until these stands mature?  By liquidating the remaining old growth
under their management, which was originally the management plan
for this forest until the nso and marbled murrelet shit hit the
fan.  There were two very small designated Wilderness areas in
the Siuslaw before the Clinton Forest Plan was adopted. 

>"But the Northwest Forest Plan has taken the Forest Service from
>profitability to near bankruptcy.  

He cleverly avoids mentioning that ONLY Region 6 (OR/WA) was profitable
in the 1980s.  The NW Forest Plan covers a portion of Region 6 forests,
yet this plan is reponsible for driving the entire USFS timber sales
program into "near bankruptcy".  I don't think so.

>"Under the president's plan, the Siuslaw National Forest was assigned a
>timber sale program of 24 million
>board feet per year, about 7 percent of what it once was.  But according
>to the Siuslaw's Monitoring and
>Evaluation Report, the forest discovered that when all the restrictions
>and constraints required by the plan
>were actually implemented on the ground, there were only half as many
>acres available for timber
>production than what was assumed by the plan's architects.

And what are these restrictions and constraints?  Exactly those which
led Judge Dwyer to lift his injunction on old-growth harvest here.   In
other words, exactly those which convinced the judge that future sales
would be in compliance with those laws which mandate that other values
than timber production, in particular preservation of our biological 
heritage, have equal footing.

Without the NW Forest Plan there would still be virtually ZERO harvest
as this Forest was heavily impacted by the injunction.   James should
keep that in mind.  He should also keep in mind that the Bush administration
didn't even bother appealing for relief from the District court 

James needs to stop whining until his gang can these laws overturned.
They tried with Sen Larry Craig this years, but the reality is that
even some of the conservative Republicans in our Senate and House
disagree with the notion that our National Forests should be managed
solely for timber production.

>"Will the Sierra Club be as outspoken in opposing "below-cost' hiking,
>camping, wildlife, driving for
>pleasure, and healthy watersheds?  Without a reasonable timber sale
>program, the golden goose has been
>cooked by the Sierra Club and the public is expected to eat it!

While I can't speak for the Sierra Club - which BTW has very little
to do with old-growth conservation issues in Oregon, and which was
long shunned for being willing to trade off protection of biologically
significant old-growth for more scenic "rock and ice" areas (James
is really out of touch, isn't he?) - the major conservation organizations
I'm aware of in Oregon support user fees for recreation.  Most 
also support Teaming With Wildlife, a proposal for an excise tax
on outdoor gear much like the P-R excise tax on guns and ammo, with
funds to be earmarked for wildlife conservation.

>"Personally, I continue to believe that we can have it all.  We can
>enjoy the fruits of sustainable harvest of
>trees, we can protect habitat for all species, maintain clean water and
>provide recreational opportunities
>for our citizens.  I believe we can do this with the resources the
>forest produces and not cost the public a
>cent.  In fact, I think we can, as we have in the past, put money into
>the Treasury rather than raiding  the
>wallets  of our citizens.

Of course, in the past we weren't protecting habitat for all species or
maintaining clean water.  That's why the USFS has repeatedly found itself
in such a legal pickle.  Geisinger actually realizes this, because his
group has been instrumental in lobbying to overturn those bits of
NEPA and the National Forest Management Act which require such
protections.  If he believes we can do so by simply turning the clock
back, why does he work to overturn those laws which provide these
protections?  Is it possible he doesn't really give a damn about
protecting wildlife habitat and other values?


- Don Baccus, Portland OR <dhogaza at>
  Nature photos, on-line guides, at

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