Forest Focus - November 24, 1998

Don Baccus dhogaza at
Sat Nov 28 18:17:01 EST 1998

In article <MPG.10c6adeba3e1f5d0989c44 at>,
Larry Caldwell <larryc at> wrote:
>In article <9bdf81bd& at>, 
>wafcdc at writes: 

>> After spending $1.2 billion in on timber sales
>> over the three year period, only $157 million was returned the Treasury.

>$1.05 billion seems like a pretty small pricetag to accomplish what the 
>USFS is expected to accomplish.  Perhaps we could double that, to say 
>$2.5 billion?  Certainly tens of thousands of miles of road need to be 
>repaired, campgrounds need to be improved, hiking trails need to be 
>built, sanitary facilities and trash removal systems need to be 
>established, plus the increase in law enforcement patrols due to the 
>vandalism and other criminal activities of the general public.  Don't 
>forget emergency medical services, with life flight helicopters available 
>for national forest areas.

Ummm...reading closely, I see that the claim is that $1.2 billion was
spent on the TIMBER SALES PROGRAM, not the forest service budget in its

Most of the other stuff you're mentioning aren't part of the timber
sales program, and are accounted for separately, I believe.

The numbers reported above may or may not be correct, though having
come from the GAO they're probably close.

One could easily argue that we'd have $1 billion extra to spend
on reparing tens of thousands of foads, hiking trails, etc if we
weren't spending that billion on subsidizing the timber sales

I'm well aware that the timber sales program dollars aren't
entirely sanitized from the rest, for instance biological
surveys on timber sales are the source of much of our baseline
data on our National Forests and the costs probably shouldn't
be fully borne by the program when doing an accounting analysis.
I don't know of any attempts to objectively allocate such expenses,
though, and the budget figures are the best way we have to analyze
the Service as far as I know.  One could as easily argue that
without the timber sales program, we'd have a much lower need for
surveying because the rate of change on the ground would be much

>The new fee entry system for national forests will pick up part of the 
>tab for necessary management expenses, but if the national parks are any 
>indication, the taxpayer is going to have to foot the bill for the 
>majority of national forest management.

Systemwide, the taxpayer already does.

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

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